Get control of your child’s health now

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

With the CDC now predicting that 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes mellitus by the year 2050, it is more urgent than ever that parents take responsibility in the weight management of our children.
Childhood and adulthood obesity have soared in the last few decades alongside associated increases in diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the so called “metabolic syndrome.”
Not only is this syndrome a precursor to heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in American adults, but it also causes chronic medical conditions that make life itself unpleasant. Chronic pain, loss of vision, amputations, dialysis and incapacity due to stroke are just a few of the results that diabetics live with on a daily basis.
A study by the National Institutes of Health indicated that being overweight at age 5 resulted in twice the average risk, and at age 18, nine times the average risk of developing diabetes in adulthood.
The good news is that an aggressive weight loss plan and maintenance of a healthy BMI (body mass index) through a proper diet and exercise program can greatly reduce type II diabetes risk for obese children. It may even reverse newly diagnosed diabetes in some instances.
With the beginning of the new school year, it is the perfect time for parents to devise a game plan for their children’s health. I would like to offer a few pointers on inserting healthy choices into our busy schedules:
Pack your child’s lunch. Although schools try to provide healthy meal options, they are often not tasty and even less often are they chosen. Allow your child to prepare his or her lunch the night before, with your guidance guaranteeing the inclusion of some fresh fruit and veggies and 2 percent milk.
Have set times and choices for snacks. A healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack will help to reduce hunger cravings that lead to rash, poor decisions and overeating at mealtime.
Some examples of healthy snacks include fresh fruit, granola bars, yogurt, pretzels and low-fat pudding cups. Please avoid high fat/high calorie foods like potato chips, candy bars, doughnuts, ice cream and cakes (i.e. Little Debbies). Don’t even have them in the house.
Limit the sodas to one or two cans per week and encourage water consumption whenever possible, settling for all natural juice or diet drinks on occasion.
Be proactive. Plan your meals a day, even a week, in advance. Much to our disadvantage, the unhealthy foods tend to be cheaper, easier and faster. Do your research and bargain hunt. You’ll be more successful in sticking with your family’s diet plan if the week’s menu is posted on the fridge and the chicken is ready in the crockpot when you get home. Every week, learn a new way to bake, grill or sauté with low-calorie seasonings.
Play, walk, run, swim and pedal with your child. Don’t count on physical education at school.  Enrollment in an extra-curricular sports activity is a plus, but also, cannot alone be relied upon to do the job. When waiting at Billy’s soccer practice, play a game of Simon Says or freeze-tag with Sally in the next field over. While waiting for supper, play a game of Wii Dance instead of watching TV.
Parents, it is well known that the eating and exercise habits you teach your children now will stay with them for the rest of their lives and may well be instilled in their own children.
Now is better than later to get them on the right track to living a diabetes free life. Look into resources in your community that will help support your goal and go to your child’s pediatrician or family medicine provider for further advice.

This article was submitted by Amanda Hovis, P.A. at Polk Wellness Center.
For more information about Polk Wellness Center, visit or call 828-894-2222.

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