Quick Tips to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated recommendations on childhood obesity prevention. Along with diet modifications and reducing screen time, the AAP encourages pediatricians to work with families to identify opportunities for physical activity. Parents are also encouraged to model healthy behaviors for their children.

More importantly, healthy eating and physical activity should be tailored to the child’s developmental stage and family characteristics.

Here are a few reminders to help your family maintain a healthy weight:

  • Buy fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, high-calorie snacks and sweets. If you want to have these foods for a special celebration, buy them shortly before the event and remove them immediately afterward.
  • Healthy foods and beverages (water, fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie snacks) should be readily available and in plain sight on the kitchen table, counter or in the front of a shelf.
  • High-calorie foods should be less visible – wrapped in foil rather than clear wrap, and placed in the back of the fridge or pantry.
  • Encourage children to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Increase physical activities together to meet the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day. Examples of activities, include: team sports, dog walking, bowling, using the stairs, going to a park, playground, or walking/bicycle trail.
  • Reduce sedentary behaviors. One way to achieve this is to remove the TV and other media from the bedroom and the kitchen.
  • Children who sleep less than 9 hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese; focusing on bedtime and understanding how much sleep children need at various ages can help improve a child’s overall health and well-being.

For more health and nutrition tips, visit choc.org/health.

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    “Looks can be deceiving. It can be hard for parents to tell if their child is obese,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. “Parents who are overweight or obese might not ask ...
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Childhood Obesity: Your Options

boy with donut appleCOMING TO TERMS WITH OBESITY
“Looks can be deceiving. It can be hard for parents to tell if their child is obese,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. “Parents who are overweight or obese might not ask about their
children’s weight. It is the duty of the physician to talk about that. Ask your pediatrician about your child’s weight. We use specific body-mass index charts for children. BMI differs for each age and gender, because they are growing. Ask your pediatrician for an assessment.”

PREVENTING AND TREATING OBESITY
“Prevention really starts during pregnancy. Mom should have a healthy weight gain while pregnant and keep as active as she can considering her condition,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. She also pointed out that childhood obesity is not a problem that can be solved by
medication. “Changes in lifestyle are the best. It’s a combination of healthier diet and promoting physical activity. Nutrition counseling by the pediatrician, a specialist or a dietitian will help.”

GET MOVING
Exercise helps keep kids fit and should be a part of every child’s daily routine, says Dr. Vaquero Solans, who encourages parents to set a good example. She offered these tips to
make exercise a lifestyle habit for kids that starts in infancy:

  • Start with the baby. Place him on his tummy so he will be encouraged to move around more.
  • Older children should have at least one hour a day of exercise. “This does not need to be all at once. It can be short bursts of activity of something intense 15 minutes at a time four times a day.”
  • Don’t let children age three or older sit in a stroller. They are old enough to walk.
  • Take the kids to the playground or on a walk regularly.
  • Involve the kids in sports or activities like dance when possible.

FAST FACTS

  • Number of children and adolescents in the U.S. who were overweight or obese in 2012: 1 in 3+
  • Percentage of children ages 6-11 in the U.S. who were obese in 1980: 7 %
  • Percentage of children ages 6-11 in the U.S. who were obese in 2012: Almost 18

View the full feature on Kids and Obesity

Dr. Solans
Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans
CHOC Pediatric
Gastroenterologist

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. CECILIA VAQUERO SOLANS

Dr. Vaquero Solans completed her pediatric residency training at the Hospital General de Ni–os in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also was a fellow in pediatric nutrition at North Shore University Hospital, Cornell University Medical College in New York, and completed a
fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at the Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She is interested in all pediatric digestive diseases with a special emphasis in nutrition, growth and obesity.

Dr. Vaquero Solans’ philosophy of care: “I like to provide excellent care to all my
patients in a comprehensive vision of body and mind, considering the individual patient and the family. I have a great interest in the care of the underserved groups and children with autism, other special needs and the Spanish-speaking population is very dear to me.”

EDUCATION:
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Medicina, Buenos Aires, Argentina

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Pediatrics Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

More about Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on June 30, 2014, and was written by Amy Bentley.

Fight Obesity with the Right Food

Fight_Obesity_Right_FoodsObesity in children is a major health concern in the United States: Almost 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese, a significant increase from the 7 percent of kids that age who were obese in 1980. However, an improved diet can go a long way toward overcoming the problem, a CHOC Children’s pediatric gastroenterologist says.

One of the best ways for parents to help children prevent obesity is to improve their diet, says Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans. She suggests that parents and families follow a simple “five-to-one” plan when it comes to food, beverage, exercise and lifestyle choices for their kids:

  • Serve five fruits or vegetables per day.
  • Drink four glasses of water per day.
  • Have three meals per day. (Breakfast is the most important.)
  • Spend two hours or less watching television and playing on electronics, combined.
  • Have one hour of exercise of a day.
  • Sweet beverages like soda and juice? Zero.

Sugary desserts and candy should be rare, Dr. Vaquero Solans says.

“Dessert should be mostly fruit, nuts, yogurt and high-fiber snacks,” she says.Fight_Obesity_Right_Foods_2

Children also don’t need juice, Dr. Vaquero Solans says, noting its high sugar content. Instead, children should drink milk or water.

Here are some more healthy eating tips for parents from Dr. Vaquero Solans:

  • Model good eating habits for children. To keep your kids from eating unhealthy foods, don’t buy them or keep them at home.
  • Eat meals at home whenever possible, but when eating out, make the salad a central part of the meal. These days, even fast food restaurants have at least one or two salads as a healthier alternative.
  • When going out for entertainment, go after the meal and don’t make the fast food meal the center of the day.
  • Snacks in between meals are good for kids, as long as they are healthy. Try a piece of fruit, yogurt or a cereal bar, which can help prevent overeating at mealtime.
  • If mom or dad are busy at work and have little time to cook, prepare some meals over the weekend and freeze them. This helps to avoid buying take-out.

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Kids and Healthy Hearts

 

 

kidsandheartsRISK FACTORS
Children who don’t have heart problems as kids may develop them as adults, due to risk factors like obesity and hereditary factors, says Dr. Linda E. Muhonen, a pediatric cardiologist at CHOC Children’s. Risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular diseases include smoking, poor diet that can lead to  dyslipidemias, high blood pressure and a lack of exercise. These often take root at an early age. “An obese child has an 80 percent chance of being an obese adult, and obesity can contribute to the onset of multiple illnesses including diabetes and hypertension,” says Dr. Muhonen.

HEART-HEALTHY DIET
“Parents should avoid bringing unhealthy foods into the home, such as soda or sugar-sweetened drinks,” says Dr. Muhonen. “The only drinks most kids should have are water and fat-free milk. Kids should eat three meals a day with snacks of fruits and vegetables in between. Many children skip meals, creating an environment of overeating at  the next meal; skipping meals can lead to lowering your metabolic rate. We encourage children to bring their lunch to school so they can pack something healthy like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, a piece of fruit and some pretzels or string cheese.”

GET THEM MOVING
“I like to see families have some healthy family time before dinner, like going for a family walk or going to the park before they sit down to eat,” says Dr. Muhonen. “This gets the kids to move. One of the rules in our Lipid Clinic, where we help kids at risk for developing heart disease, is that children cannot watch TV or have screen time until they have been outside for an hour doing a physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends that children have an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. It doesn’t have to be all at one time,” she says.

IS MY CHILD OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE?
Children are considered overweight if their Body Mass Index (BMI) falls in the 85-94th percentile. They are considered obese if their BMI falls in the 95th percentile or above, says Dr. Muhonen. Parents can ask their  pediatrician to help make this determination.

FAST FACTS

  • Approximate number of children ages 12-17 who are already smokers: 4.5 Million
  • Percentage of obese children who will become obese adults: 80%
  • Approximate percentage of children and adolescents (ages 6-19) who were overweight or obese in 2010: 33%

View the full feature on Kids and Healthy Hearts

Dr. Linda Muhonen

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. LINDA MUHONEN

Dr. Muhonen helps patients with the full spectrum of heart conditions, with special emphasis in preventive cardiology. She also directs the Children’s Cholesterol (Lipid) Clinic at CHOC. Dr. Muhonen served her Pediatric Cardiology fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City and she completed her internship and residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Part of her practice focuses on helping children avoid heart problems related to genetics and/or obesity later in life. She is the leading physician at CHOC’s Lipid Clinic, which treats these “at risk” children.

Dr. Muhonen’s philosophy of care: “I focus on the family as a whole when treating children with heart and obesity related problems. You can’t just focus on the child because a child is a product of genetics and their environment.”

EDUCATION:
Oral Roberts School of Medicine – Tulsa, Oklahoma

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Pediatric Cardiology

More about Dr. Muhonen | More about The Heart Institute at CHOC Children’s

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on February 17, 2014 and was written by Amy Bentley.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – a great time to incorporate healthy habits into your kids’ back to school routine.  Check out these easy tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To lead a healthy active life, families can strive to reach these four easy goals:

  • 5 fruits and vegetables a day,
  • 2 hours or less of screen time (TV, computer, video games) per day,
  • 1 hour of physical activity a day, and
  • 0 limit sugar-sweetened drinks.

To help children live healthy active lives, parents can:

  • Be role models themselves by making healthy eating and daily
    physical activity the norm for their family.
  • Create a home where healthy choices are available and encouraged.
  • Make it fun – find ways to engage your children such as:
    o playing a game of tag,
    o cooking healthy meals together,
    o creating a rainbow shopping list to find colorful fruits and vegetables,
    o go on a walking scavenger hunt through the neighborhood, or
    o grow a family garden.

Help your kids form healthy habits now. Healthy active children are more likely to be healthy active adults!

Related articles:

  • Quick Tips to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight
    In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated recommendations on childhood obesity prevention. Along with diet modifications and reducing screen time, the AAP encourages pediatricians to work ...
  • Childhood Obesity: Your Options
    “Looks can be deceiving. It can be hard for parents to tell if their child is obese,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. “Parents who are overweight or obese might not ask ...
  • Fight Obesity with the Right Food
    Obesity in children is a major health concern in the United States: Almost 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese, a significant increase from the 7 percent ...