The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in every five children in the United States is obese. September is Childhood Obesity Awareness month, and physicians with Memorial Hermann Medical Group urge parents and caregivers to set a good example when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
“Parents are the ones in charge of buying the groceries, selecting meals, and setting a healthy example. When concerned parents talk with me about their child’s weight, I emphasize the importance of the entire family making healthy choices,” encourages family medicine physician, Toni Odumosu, M.D., who practices at the Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Cypress.
Dr. Odumosu makes these suggestions for healthy changes:
Make it easy to be healthy- If the sugary, fatty, and low nutrient foods are in the home, everyone is tempted by them. If you can, stop purchasing those items altogether. Then make healthy choices convenient, like slicing up an apple ahead of time. Get the entire family involved- Involve your kids in planning the meals, going grocery shopping, and even preparing the food. Young children can help pick out fruit, while older children can help with meal preparations. By allowing kids to take ownership of their choices, they may not feel forced to eat healthy.
Ditch sugary drinks- Regular sodas are high in sugar and low in nutrients. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that can dull our sense to naturally sweet foods like fruit. Unfortunately, certain fruit juices are also high in sugar and should be consumed in small amounts. Instead, encourage kids to drink water.
Get active – Whether it is going for a walk, playing an age-appropriate game, or participating in organized sports, getting active can also provide much needed family and bonding time.
Keep Trying- It can take time for kids, and adults, to enjoy the tastes of healthy food. If your family does not like steamed broccoli, try roasting it. If they do not like green beans, try peas. Keep promoting healthy foods until you find something they like.
“It can be tough to break the unhealthy habits we’ve developed over the years, but that unhealthy lifestyle can have both immediate and long-term effects on your children. Obese children are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea, among other illnesses,” says Dr. Odumosu.
The CDC also reports that obese children and adolescents are more likely to be obese as adults, and therefore more at risk for health problems later in life, like type 2 diabetes, stroke, and several types of cancer.
“Have a conversation with your family physician about the ways you and your family can get healthier. If possible, consult a dietician who can help you prepare nutritious meals that are also the proper portion-size,” suggests Dr. Odumosu.
Dr. Odumosu received her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin and her medical degree from The University of Texas at Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Odumosu treats patients for acute episodic issues and manages chronic illnesses like hypothyroidism and diabetes.
You can make an appointment with any of our more than 200 Memorial Hermann Medical Group members to discuss making healthy changes in your family’s lifestyle. The Memorial Hermann Medical Group represents primary care physicians and specialists under one umbrella organization, and provides the highest level of quality care to its patients. Call 713.222.CARE or use ScheduleNow.