Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Could We Do More To Fight Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity is a problem that affects children of all cultural, ethnic and racial persuasion. But some groups are affected more than others. According to the CDC, African American and Hispanic children are more likely to be overweight than children of other racial groups. This is particularly significant in Miami, Florida, where these two groups constitute a large percentage of the population.
Clearly, if we are to reverse this public health epidemic, we must develop strategies to address the unique circumstances that contribute to obesity in these particular groups..
Here are 5 simple things that you can do to keep your child from becoming overweight.
  • Keep sodas out of the house. Although fruit juices contain some important nutrients, they are also high in sugar, so limit fruit juice to not more than 1 cup per day. Encourage your child to drink water when thirsty.
  • Avoid purchasing foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. This sweetener is the source of a lot of added calories in the foods that children eat. So, it is safe to say that if you cut back on foods that are made with this sweetener, you could be eliminating a lot of the excess calories from your child's diet.
  • Limit the amount of fast food that your child eats. Some fast food meals can provide from 50 percent to more than 100 percent of the fat, sugar and sodium that your child needs to eat in one day. 
  • Get your child up and moving. Registered dietitians, pediatricians and other health-care professionals recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of exercise most days. This will help to burn calories and prevent unhealthy weight gain. Try to limit the amount of time that your child sits in front of the television or playing video games.
  • Set a good example. Let your child see you eating the foods you want him to eat and make regular exercise a family affair.

Please send us your comments on any topic presented here, or ask a question.

Dr. Dorene E. Carter is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, specializing in child health and nutrition, with special emphasis on childhood obesity. Dr. Carter, who earned her PhD in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, is CEO of CHANA Project, the Child Health and Nutrition Access Project. To learn more, visit www.dailydietguide.com and www.chanaproject.org.