Tick Bites: Fact vs. Fiction

Tick bites can be a common summer nuisance depending on where your activities or travels take you. Parents should be aware of common misconceptions related to ticks, says CHOC Children’s pediatrician Dr. Katherine Roberts.

Parents can help prevent tick bites: Fact

There are several things parents can do to help their children avoid tick bites.

  • Stay on a path when hiking
  • Wear long pants, and tuck pants into long socks
  • On clothes, use permethrin spray. On the skin, use insect repellent with 30 percent DEET. Be aware that this generally only lasts on the skin for one to two hours, so reapply often if you’re spending extended time outdoors.

Remove ticks by lighting a match near the arachnid: Fiction

This age-old myth can lead to accidental injuries, says Roberts, and should always be avoided. Instead, dip a cotton ball in liquid soap, and soak the tick for one to two minutes. Then locate the head of the tick and use a tweezers to pull it straight out. If the tick  is still latched on to the skin,  hold the head of the tick straight out for 30-60 seconds and it will release from the skin. Then drop the tick into a jar of rubbing alcohol to eliminate it. If the tick is too small to grab with a tweezers, use a credit card or popsicle stick to slide it off the skin. Most tick bites don’t result in any symptoms or side effects, and removal at home is sufficient care.

Tick bites lead to Lyme disease: Rarely

The likelihood of contracting Lyme disease via a tick bite in southern California is extremely small, says Roberts.  There are many variations of ticks and only one- deer ticks, not commonly found in this region- transmits Lyme disease. Since deer ticks are tiny, they are easily missed.  Always do a full body check for ticks after going outdoors, and pay close attention to the head, neck and scalp, since ticks gravitate to those areas.

Consult your pediatrician if you cannot remove the tick in its entirety, or if your child becomes symptomatic. Lyme disease symptoms include fever, muscle aches, joint aches and headaches. If you were recently in an area known for deer ticks, most notably the northeastern United States or the upper Midwest, watch out for small red rings one to two inches from a possible bite site, which may be a sign of Lyme disease. Treatment includes one to two weeks of antibiotics, and most children make a complete recovery with no complications.

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Summer Safety: What’s in Sunscreen?

By Melody Sun, clinical pharmacist at CHOC Children’s

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and our best protection against the outside environment. Sunlight stimulates the skin to produce vitamin D, however, daily prolonged exposure to radiation from the sun can cause wrinkles, freckles, and, in the worst case, skin cancer. Sunscreen can protect the skin so that it can continue to protect the rest of the body. Remember that radiation from the sun penetrates the skin even on cloudy and snowy days, so it is important to apply sunscreen whenever going outside.

Knowing when to apply is the first step, but what is the difference between products? Navigating your way through the endless number of products can be challenging. The active ingredients, which are listed in the Drug Facts Label, protect the skin from different types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation called UVA and UVB. UVA reaches deeper into the part of the skin that provides support and nourishment to the rest of the skin layers. UVB can damage the part of the skin that contains important structures such as blood vessels and nerve endings. Sunscreen protects the skin by reflecting or absorbing the radiation.  The ‘reflective’ property is not as strong as the ‘absorptive’ property because the UV radiation can hit other areas.

Let the following table be a guide to help you understand the ingredients in your sunscreen, and how each of them is important in helping protect you and your family.

Active Ingredient Radiation Coverage Considerations
UVA UVB
Absorbs radiation
Avobenzone

Best UVA coverage. Must be in combination with other ingredients (ie, octocrylene). However, may degrade other sunscreen ingredients.
Ecamsule ✔ (partial) Must be in combination with other ingredients (ie, octocrylene). Less water resistant.
Oxybenzone ✔ (partial) Can cause allergic reactions, not water resistant
Padimate-O

Glycerol PABA

Most potent UVB absorber, potential for allergic reactions (related to PABA)
Octocrylene Stabilizes other ingredients.
Octinoxate

Cinoxate

Water resistant, avoid combination with avobenzone (destabilizes avobenzone’s UVA protection).
Octyl salicylate (octisalate)

Trolamine salicylate

Homosalate

Stabilizes other ingredients, water resistant, less potent in UVB absorption than others
Ensulizole ✔︎ Less oily application, not water resistant
Reflects and disperses radiation
Titanium dioxide Transparent formulations available
Zinc oxide Leaves whitened layer on skin and clothing

Note: The above chart is not all inclusive.

Consider the following guidelines when making your selection:

  • Make sure the combination of active ingredients covers both UVA and UVB
  • If you’ll be sweating or around water, select a combination that is water-resistant.
  • ‘Water resistant’ labeling means the product retains its activity for at least 40 minutes in water. ‘Very water resistant’ means at least 80 minutes.
  • Will you be in the sun all day? If so, select a higher SPF depending on your skin tone and individual sensitivity to sunburns.

Consult your child’s pediatrician with questions on specific sun prevention mechanisms for your family.

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Coming Soon: A New Food Label!

By Stephanie Prideaux, Dietetic Technician, Registered at CHOC Children’s

“Very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids,” joked First Lady Michelle Obama on the night that the biggest changes to the food label in twenty years were publicly announced.

These updates are made to reflect new scientific knowledge and respond to America’s current state of health. The nutrition facts tell us what is in our food so that we can make healthy choices to fuel our busy lives and prevent disease.

What’s New?

The new rules affect the familiar black and white (and commonly overlooked) nutrition facts panel. Companies can start at any time, but you can be sure to see them by July 27, 2018. Familiarize yourself with the major changes so you can be sure you’re buying the best foods for you and your family.
new food label

Big and Bold Calories
Calories (the amount of energy food contains) per serving will now be bigger and bolder, making them easier to read.

Serving Sizes That We Actually Eat
Instead of the standard portion sizes used in the past, these new servings will be increased or decreased to match the amount that people in the U.S. normally eat. Odd-sized servings, like a 20-ounce bottle of coke, which would previously have read as one and a half servings, will be labeled as one whole serving. Packages with multiple servings that might also be eaten in one sitting, such as a bag of chips, will have two columns: one with nutrition information per serving and another with information per whole package.

Added Sugar
Packages will also start to list how much sugar was added to sweeten the product. Watch out, because every 4 grams added is like putting a whole teaspoon of sugar in your food or drink!

Percent Daily Values (%DVs) Updated and Better Explained
Percentages posted to the right of each nutrient are a simple guide that most people can use to make healthy food choices. Remember that we only need to eat 100 percent of these. So, if all of our foods for the day are adding up to be far above or under 100 percent, you may want to make different choices in your meal pattern. For example, many Americans are eating too much sodium and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

Say Hello to Vitamin D and Potassium
Vitamin D and potassium play important roles in health and preventing chronic disease, but many people are not getting enough. These have been added to help people make healthy choices toward meeting their recommended daily intake.

Goodbye, Vitamins A and C!
These days, it is rare for someone not to get enough of these two vitamins. We still need them, but we can happily say goodbye to them from our nutrition facts panel.

The Bottom Line:

 While these changes are baby steps in the right direction, for many people the new label may not be as user-friendly as we originally hoped this version would be.

Many of the healthiest foods you can find will never even have a food label. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, meats, dairy, and water are whole unprocessed items that will help us reach 100 percent of the nutrients we need to help us feel great, look great and prevent chronic disease.

All foods can fit into a healthful lifestyle. When choosing packaged foods, remember to read the label and be a little like Goldilocks with your nutrients: not too much, not too little, but juuuuust right.

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Keep Kids Safe While Playing Pokémon

Have you or your kids joined the Pokémon Go craze?

The smartphone-based game has picked up steam worldwide, bringing gamers out in droves to hunt for cartoon critters called Pokémon.

While the game is unique and commendable for requiring players to head outside, explore and be active, it has prompted some safety concerns. These simple tips can help parents ensure their children stay safe while playing Pokémon Go.

pokemon go

Don’t use phones or headphones while crossing streets

About half of pedestrian-related injuries in teenagers may be attributed to distracted walking – and the Pokémon trend can only compound these dangers.

Already, according to a 2014 study, among the teens who were hit by a car while walking, 47 percent were listening to music, 20 percent were talking on the phone, and 18 percent were texting.

Parents should insist that children put away their devices and headphones while walking on sidewalks or roads.

Never play while driving

In 2010, about 18 percent of all injury car accidents were attributed to distracted driving. This could mean texting, eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone, grooming, or many other activities that pull attention from the road.

Law enforcement officials say that young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to have an accident because of distracted driving. For a driver of any age, using a cell phone behind the wheel reduces brain functions needed for safe driving by up to 37 percent.

Experts recommend that all drivers turn off their phones or keep them out of reach while behind the wheel.

Be mindful of other pedestrians

Not only are cars a threat as a gamer searches for Pokémon, but other pedestrians can be as well. Be mindful of others’ space and paths of travel.

Further, be watchful for other distracted pedestrians or drivers who might be playing the game and not fully focusing on the road ahead. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets.

Don’t play in unsafe locations

Since Pokémon launched in recent weeks, media reports have surfaced of people falling off of cliffs or becoming victims of crimes while playing the game.

To that end, don’t search for Pokémon in locations that are dark, abandoned or otherwise unsafe. Stay in groups and be aware of surroundings.

Rotate screen time with other activities

Children should not exceed more than two hours of screen time each day. Screen time is considered watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer, tablet or smartphones.

Though Pokémon does inspire players to stay active, parents should remind their children of the countless other summertime activities that do not involve screens.

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Child Passenger Safety Tips for Your Next Vacation

Finding the right car seat for your little passenger is an important task for all parents. Recent legislation states all children in California must be in rear-facing car seats until age two. If you’re traveling this summer, consider the following guidelines for passenger safety from the experts of CHOC Children’s community education department.

No matter what your mode of transportation might be, bring your own car seat whenever possible, instead of renting one through a car rental service, says Amy Frias, community educator at CHOC.

“It’s hard to know if that company has really kept the car seat clean, if it was ever involved in a crash, or recalled ,” says Frias.

If you are flying and cannot travel with your own car seat, and you are meeting family or friends, have them bring a car sear to the airport when you arrive.

Children over the age of two must have their own seat on an airplane, and in these circumstances, says Frias, using an appropriate car seat protects kids from turbulence.

When purchasing a car seat, CHOC community educators recommend purchasing a seat that fits well into your vehicle, fits your child and your budget.  Another consideration would be if you travel often by air, you may want a lighter seat.

Summer is also a popular time for recreational vehicle travel. Many parents assume that RVs have the same safety standards as a bus, given their size, which is not true, says Frias.

The most common injuries related to RV travel revolve around projectiles- which could even include cabinetry that appears properly mounted to the interior walls. Loose objects in the RV pose additional dangers.

“If your family is traveling by RV this summer, the safest place for your child to ride is in a car that may be caravanning with the RV, and properly restrained in their appropriate car seat,” says Frias. “RVs are rarely ideal for transporting children.”

Car seats should never be installed in RV seats that face backwards or sideways. For all passengers, make sure they are buckled up when the RV is moving.

“Traveling with kids can be exciting but challenging says Frias. Parents should remember that safety doesn’t go on vacation when you do.”

For questions about the car seat that is best suited for your family, call CHOC’s community education department at 714-509-8897.

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Meet Dr. Maryam Gholizadeh

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Maryam Gholizadeh, a pediatric surgeon. Dr. Gholizadeh attended medical school at George Washington University, and completed her residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She completed a pediatric surgery fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C., and a pediatric surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She is currently the chair of pediatric surgery, and a member of the credentialing, medical executive and medical staff performance committees. She has been on staff at CHOC for 13 years.

Dr. Maryam Gholizadeh

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: All aspects of pediatric and neonatal surgery, surgical oncology and minimal invasive surgery.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: Appendicitis, hernias, lumps and bumps, as well as complex congenital pediatric and neonatal conditions.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about your division at CHOC?

A: As a general pediatric surgery division, we can take care of a variety of conditions such as hernias, hydroceles, gastrointestinal conditions requiring surgery, thoracic conditions, oncological problems requiring surgery such as neuroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor and teratomas.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?

A: We have a great group of specialists at CHOC who can deliver a high quality of care to our patients.

Q: Why did you decide to become a pediatric surgeon?

A: I decided to become a pediatric surgeon when I was a third year surgical resident on pediatric surgery rotation. Pediatric general surgery is the only field where you are able to take care of a variety of conditions. I found this field extremely rewarding, at the same time challenging.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?

A: An athlete. I love the challenge, the discipline, and the fact you are always trying to do your best.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: Running, cycling, skiing and playing with my dogs.

Q: What was the funniest thing a patient told you?

A: There was a young child around 8-9 years old and we were going to remove his appendix with laparoscopy. I was standing on his left side because with laparoscopy we make our incision on the left side. Just before he went to sleep he looked up at me and said, “Why are you standing on my left? My appendix is on the right.” I was amazed at how knowledgeable this kid was!

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Living with Scoliosis: Jessica’s Story

During a routine check for scoliosis during physical education class in seventh grade, a teacher noticed a slight curve in Jessica’s spine. A trip to her pediatrician soon followed. X-rays showed a thirty degree curve and since that was considered slight, follow-up imaging was recommended for a year later. By that time Jessica’s curve worsened by 15 degrees, and she was referred to Dr. Afshin Aminian, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and director of the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute.

Bracing was initially recommended to try to prevent Jessica’s curve from getting worse.

“People my age don’t know that much about scoliosis even though it’s so common,” says Jessica. “I only had to wear my brace at night while I was sleeping, so no one ever really saw it or had the opportunity to tease me because of it, but they still asked questions, like was it comfortable or not.”

Although Jessica was vigilant about wearing her brace as instructed, her curve worsened by another twenty degrees, to nearly 70, and surgery was recommended. As a lifelong dancer, and a member of her high school’s competitive dance team, Jessica was initially worried that having surgery to correct this significant curve would affect her flexibility.

scoliosis
Jessica’s spine, before and after surgery.

“It’s very common for children or adolescent patients to be hesitant or even fearful when they first hear they need surgery,” says Dr. Aminian. “We encourage all of our patients to ask a lot of questions so they really feel like they are involved in their care team. We remind them that the team of orthopaedic surgeons at CHOC uses the very latest methods in a setting that’s specially designed for kids and teens, so they are in the best hands possible.”

Jessica’s surgery was ultimately set for winter break during her sophomore year of high school.

“All of my nurses were so impressed that I was up and walking the next day, but after I went home it was harder than I thought to move around” she said.

At a check-up with Dr. Aminian a few weeks later, Jessica was healing so well that she was able to return to school three weeks after surgery, as opposed to the three month break she had expected. Thanks to her flexibility as a dancer prior to surgery, she could even touch her toes at her follow up appointment, to the surprise of her care team.

Getting back into the groove of a full school day did not come without challenges. To protect her spine as it continued to heal, Jessica had to adjust to sitting for longer periods of time, something she slowly worked up to before returning to school. She also brought a small pillow to school to make her desk more comfortable, and made arrangements with teachers to keep textbooks in class so she didn’t have to carry them around.

“For an active person like me, not being able to bend, twist or lift anything for three months was hard, but in the end it made me thankful because my recovery was temporary, and overall I am really healthy,” she says.

Jessica knew she wanted to document her recovery phase, so she asked her mom to film some footage while she was in the hospital. That eventually morphed into a series of YouTube videos educating others on scoliosis, recovery tips, and sharing her own journey with the condition. When she was diagnosed, she knew others who had scoliosis, but no one’s curve was as severe as her own, so some peer-to-peer questions were left unanswered.

scoliosis
After her own successful scoliosis surgery, Jessica now imparts wisdom on other teens suffering from scoliosis.

“I want other scoliosis patients to know that it’s going to be hard, and you will have times when you can’t do something, but I promise it will get easier if you just go at your own pace and follow your doctor’s guidelines,” she says. “I love getting messages from people that watch my videos, thanking me for helping to calm their nerves before surgery.”

Filming these videos and helping other patients has helped to fill the void that dancing left. After losing one year of practice time due to surgery and recovery, Jessica decided not to go back to dancing.

“I’m busy in different ways now,” says Jessica. “Dancing provided great memories for me, but I’m on to a new chapter now.”

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Meet Dr. Amy Harrison

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Amy Harrison, a pediatric pulmonologist. Dr. Harrison attended Indiana University School of Medicine, and completed both her pediatrics residency and fellowship in pediatric pulmonology at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. She currently serves as co-director of CHOC’s Cystic Fibrosis Center, and has been on staff at CHOC for five years.

Dr. Amy Harrison
Dr. Amy Harrison

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A:  Cystic fibrosis (CF), muscle weakness (muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy), asthma and general pulmonary health, chronic disease.

Q: Are you working on any current research?

A: Our CF program was awarded the CF Fundamentals Learning and Leadership Collaborative in June 2015, which has allowed us to improve our CF care processes and clinical outcomes for people with cystic fibrosis. We are currently studying ways to improve our patients’ knowledge of, and adherence to, prescribed pulmonary therapies.

Q: Are there any new programs or developments within your specialty?

A:  Our CF program was awarded a mental health grant through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to develop and implement a depression and anxiety screening program for patients with CF and their caregivers. Funds will enable the team to expand its social worker’s availability and have a designated psychologist to help patients and caregivers. They will provide screenings, evidence-based guidelines and follow-up care for depression and anxiety, as well as develop a community referral network of mental health providers. CHOC’s CF model, if successful, could be replicated in other specialty clinics.

In addition, we are excited to offer many cutting-edge therapies for CF patients including Orkambi and Kalydeco, medications that help the defective protein in CF function more normally, thus treating the underlying cause of CF.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: I see patients with a range of conditions, including asthma, chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?

A: The pulmonary division at CHOC offers comprehensive care for all patients with lung disease and sleep disorders from extensive lung function testing to sleep studies and diagnostic procedures such as bronchoscopy. We also have comprehensive services for patients with sleep apnea, sleep breathing disorders including apnea monitors and BIPAP data analysis for clinical management. In addition, we also offer services in Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Corona and Pomona Valley.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?  

A: I enjoy caring for children with chronic conditions and helping them to find ways of living normal fulfilling lives. I take great pride in my patient’s accomplishments and find their stories inspiring. I most enjoy creating a true partnership with my patients and their families to find ways to improve their care.

 Q: Why did you decide to become a pediatric pulmonologist?

A: I was always interested in science from a very young age and pursued a medical education due to my own fascination with learning more about how our bodies work. During my training, I developed asthma myself and found my strong relationships with my own medical professionals enormously helpful in empowering me to deal with a chronic disease.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?  

A: I would probably set up my own Etsy shop and sell things I create! I often make homemade gifts for friends and family members for birthdays and holidays. I also love to travel and exposing my children to new cultures.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: I love spending time with my family and my three children, ages 2, 6 and 10. In addition, I enjoy reading, visiting museums and traveling.

Q: What have you learned from your patients?

A: I am continuously amazed by how strong and resilient my patients can be. I learn so much from them, and I have now had three patients tell me they were inspired to pursue a career in medicine because of our relationship and their disease.

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5 Tips for Developing Healthy Eating Habits in Kids

By Shonda Brown, RD, CSP, CNSC, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

Kids’ food preferences are influenced in large part by their caregiver’s own food preferences, as well as the behavior they model. Too often parents want their children to eat healthy, but they either don’t offer healthy options or don’t eat healthy foods themselves.

Helping children develop healthy eating habits early in life as well as assuring adequate nutritional intake during a time of rapid growth and development is paramount in reaching and maintaining health well into adulthood. In fact, research has shown that exposing toddlers to a variety of foods and flavors increases the number of foods accepted in later childhood.  Unfortunately, less than half of children 2-17 years old meet their recommended daily intakes of vegetables, seafood and beans, and less than 20 percent of their recommended intake of whole grains, according to a 2010 study by The Healthy Eating Index, a report of the United States Department of Agriculture.  A report from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study showed that approximately 25 percent of children failed to eat a single serving of fruit or vegetables on the survey day and up to 85 percent of children consumed some type of sweetened beverage, dessert or salty snack. Sadly, of the vegetables consumed, french fries were the most popular.

More than one quarter of total daily calories are consumed outside the home, highlighting the need to assure meals purchased at restaurants are providing children with balanced nutrition. The National Restaurant Association introduced the Kids LiveWell program in 2011 in an effort to improve the nutritional quality of food and beverages offered on kids’ menus. Improvements over the past few years include restaurants now providing fruit and vegetables as side options instead of fries or chips, and milk or water instead of soda. However, only 9 percent of meal combinations offered at the top 50 restaurant chains meet the Kids LiveWell nutritional guidelines.

Here is what you can do to turn the tables on “kids’ food”. Incorporate the following tips to help children choose healthy foods and develop healthy eating patterns that may last a lifetime.

  1. Prepare meals together

Have your child create a new meal or snack from a few healthy ingredients. Talk about how it smells, tastes, looks and feels. Children as young as two years old can help out in the kitchen. You can have your child wash fruits and vegetables, or stir ingredients. Children are more open to trying new foods if they have opportunities to explore and learn about the food before they eat it.

  1. Make healthy foods fun

Be creative when offering new foods. You can make bugs with fruit kabobs or faces with vegetables on homemade pizza. Giving foods fun names is always a hit – like “monster brains” for cauliflower or “silly billy green beans.”

  1. Help them learn to love a variety of healthy food

Start by setting an example – a child is more likely to accept a new food if they observe parents, siblings or friends taste and enjoy the food.  Food acceptance is also related to exposure. It often takes 10-15 times before a child may accept a new food so it is important to be patient as well as persistent. Some helpful tips are

  • Offer small portions at first
  • Offer a new food with familiar foods
  • Allow your child to decide if they are going to try the new food
  • Offer praise when a child tries a new food
  1. Make mealtimes family time

Children who eat meals with their families at home have better quality diets and higher intake of fruits and vegetables. Remove any distractions such as TV or iPads from the dinner table. Allow children to make choices and serve themselves – this empowers them and gives them confidence. Enjoy time together as a family and talk about fun things that happened during the day.

  1. Make healthy choices when dining out

There are no magical foods that only kids eat. Children can be served the same foods as the rest of the family. If you are out at a restaurant, you can skip ordering from the kids menu and order a healthy option from the regular menu. The portion size will likely be more than what your child needs, so you can share between siblings or bring home leftovers. If you order from the kids menu, chose the fruit, yogurt or veggie sides instead of high calorie, low nutrient sides such as chips and french fries. Skip the sugary beverages such as soda and chose low fat milk or water instead.

Keep healthy foods available whenever you can, and maintain a relaxing and encouraging environment around mealtimes. You never know, your child may just munch on Swiss chard picked fresh from the garden, beg that you prepare scallops for dinner or think raisins and nuts are dessert.

Learn more about nutrition services at CHOC Children’s.

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Keeping Kids Active This Summer

By Michael Molina, MPH, Community Educator at CHOC Children’s

Children and adolescents should meet a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The full 60 minutes doesn’t have to be all at once- you can break it down in smaller sessions such as 15-20 minutes. Being active is an essential part a child’s growth and development, and keeping them healthy. Incorporate these easy tips into your family’s summer plans to make sure everyone gets the physical activity they need and deserve.

Be active with your children

Be a role model for your kids. Children are more likely to stay active when they are having fun with their parents. Using words like “play time” or “fun time” makes it more exciting and appealing than “exercise” or “working out.” Tap into activities or sports that they are interested in, such as walking the dog, playing catch, soccer, riding a bike, or an obstacle course in your backyard.

Parents should encourage physical activities for the whole family, and time together should concentrate on 3 areas:

  • Endurance (increase heart rate)- Run away from the person who’s “it” or balloon tag
  • Strength (using our muscles)-Try crossing the monkey bars. No need for weights for this one; use your body weight for pull-ups, pushups, and sit-ups at the playground
  • Flexibility (stretching our muscles)- Fun yoga poses or something as simple as bending down to tie their shoes

Limit screen time for the entire family

Children should not exceed more than two hours of screen time each day. Screen time is considered watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer, tablet or smartphones.

Children are more likely to eat foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium during long periods of screen time that surpass their serving size.

Screen time means time away from being active. Long term consequences of being physically inactive increase one’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Join a summer camp or program

Look for your city’s summer camps or programs, or join your local Boys and Girls Club.

Ask what types of activities  these summer programs provide for your child and if they are age appropriate. Also try to find ways that you can be involved with the summer program.

Drink plenty of water

Provide water as a source of rehydration, not fruit drinks. Many fruit drinks are advertised as “healthy” drinks because they have images of real fruit on the packages when really it is made with a small percent of real fruit.

Water is a great source of hydration and it is calorie-free.  Try adding slices of real fruit in the water for more flavor.

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