Meet Dr. Alexandra Roche

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Alexandra Roche, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine, who was recently named a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

Dr. Alexandra Roche
Dr. Alexandra Roche, a pediatrician who works with adolescents at CHOC Children’s.

Q: What is your education and training?
A: I received my undergraduate degree in anthropology from Barnard College, attended medical school at New York Medical College, and completed my residency in pediatrics at CHOC Children’s.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Adolescent medicine is my specialty because I love working with teens. I am fascinated by their transformation from kids into mature adults. I often work with teens who have eating disorders and on obesity medicine.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: 10 years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: Eating disorders have changed over the last 10 years that I’ve been working with adolescents. The diagnosis criteria are being defined, and we are seeing more males suffering from eating disorders. The obesity epidemic often leads to disordered eating; it can lead to rapid weight loss in unhealthy ways.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Many patients come to me for acne, menstrual concerns, eating disorders, anxiety, questions related to sexuality.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: We take a holistic approach to treating each patient. If someone has an ear infection, we don’t just prescribe an antibiotic; we ask ourselves, “How do I take care of the whole patient?” The reason why so many doctors are committed to practicing medicine at CHOC is the medical staff’s dedication to working their hardest to help each patient receive their best possible outcome.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I wondered, “How can I effectively change someone’s life?” I wanted to help people get through the day feeling better about themselves.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I would work for the National Park Service. I love being a tour guide when I have visitors in town.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: Spending time outside, being in nature, hiking.

Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: I have learned just how resilient kids are. It doesn’t matter what they go through, they have so much strength and can persevere through anything if they have someone to show them the way.

Learn more about adolescent medicine at CHOC.

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Kids and Healthy Eating Habits

girl with veggiesCREATING HEALTHY EATING HABITS
“It’s important to offer children a wide variety of foods so they can try new things,” says Dr. Alexandra Roche, a CHOC Children’s Pediatric Specialist. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are always the best for kids. One of my biggest recommendations is to limit sweetened beverages as much as possible. Encouraging milk and water is best, with juice being okay once a day. Soda should only be for special occasions. Snacks or weeknight desserts can be yogurt with fruit, and then on the weekends, maybe dessert can be a special treat like cookies. Whole grains help keep people full longer, so offer whole wheat bread and pasta as opposed to white or highly processed foods.” For healthy snacks, Dr. Roche suggests granola, apple slices with peanut butter, carrots, hummus, fruit smoothies and low-fat yogurt.

ESTABLISHING HABITS
“It takes children a long time to get used to a new food so just because they don’t like it once doesn’t mean they won’t eat it later. Offer new foods multiple times in different situations, and many times the kids will get used to them,” says Dr. Roche. In addition, she says, “Parents should also be willing to try new foods because they are role models. Parents should model good eating habits. Eating dinner as a family together at the table definitely helps to establish good habits. People consume about 20 percent more calories when they are eating in front of the television. It’s like mindless eating.”

RISKS OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Overweight and obese children face many serious health threats. As kids, these threats include high blood pressure, joint problems and low self-esteem. Obese children and adolescents are likely to be obese as adults and are more at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obese youths are two times more likely to die before the age of 55 compared to their healthy weight counterparts and 80 percent of obese teens will be obese adults. This is why prevention and early intervention is key,” says Dr. Roche.

FAST FACTS

  • The number of U.S. children and teens who are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate from 1963: More than 1 in 3
  • Percent of obese children with abnormally high cholesterol levels: 40 %
  • Percent of obese teens who will become obese adults: 80 %

 

View the full feature on Healthy Eating Habits

Dr. Alexandra Roche
Dr. Alexandra Roche
CHOC Pediatric Specialist

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: Dr. Alexandra Roche

Dr. Roche, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is on staff at the CHOC Primary Care Clinic in Orange. Dr. Roche completed her residency at CHOC. She focuses much of her patient practice on obesity and eating disorders in adolescents.
Dr. Roche’s philosophy of care: “I think every child has the potential to be a stellar human being and I want to help them reach their potential in any way I can.”

EDUCATION:
New York Medical College in New York

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Pediatrics

More about Dr. Alexandra Roche

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on May 5, 2104, and was written by Amy Bentley.

Four Tips for Feeding Fussy Eaters

tips_fussy_eatersAs many parents know, getting toddlers and young children to eat healthy foods like vegetables can be a challenge. Most young children prefer chocolate and ice cream to peas and broccoli. And, it’s not uncommon for toddlers and children to simply be fussy eaters.

What to do?

By teaching children healthy eating habits early, parents and other caregivers can help children learn good eating habits that will last a lifetime and also help them maintain a healthy weight.

“If you start offering healthy food choices at a young age, and delay offering unhealthier junk foods like cookies or chips until a later age, that will help children establish a healthy flavor palette,” says Dr. Alexandra Roche, a pediatrician at CHOC Children’s.

Here are four tips to help fussy eaters – mostly toddlers and kids six and younger – develop healthy eating habits.

Offer kids three choices of healthy foods – and that’s it. For example, a toddler can have a choice of watermelon, peaches or a banana.

“That way, the child has an opportunity to make a choice,” says Dr. Roche. “If they reject all three choices, don’t give in. It’s all about the kids wanting independence and they get to choose – to a point. If the child is truly hungry, he will eat what he is being offered.

Ask the kids to help make dinner. They will be more likely to eat things that are healthy if they help make the meal and have some fun with meal preparation. For example, kids can rinse the veggies or make the salad, Dr. Roche says.

“The kids can also make suggestions for salads,” she says. “If they want to put raisins in a salad, go for it. Let them be creative, then healthy food becomes fun.”

Make food fun. Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner.

Try providing healthy foods in different forms, such as raw, cooked or mixed into a soup.

“Just include the food in a dish you are making or a sauce, and don’t make a big issue out of it,” says Dr. Roche. “The expectation should be that this is normal. Create a normal expectation that your family eats healthy every day.”

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