Be the Change: Adults Must Set Example to Reduce Child Obesity

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• Screen time should be limited to no more than 2 hours a day, including TV, video games, and non-school related computer use—such as smart phones and tablets.

• A healthy diet, replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water, low-fat or non-fat milk when they are thirsty is best. Even 100 percent juices have a lot of sugar, sometimes as much as sugar-sweetened sodas, so consumption should be limited to one small glass or juice box per day.

Rodgers also recommends family activities that involve walking and other physical activity.

“If your child sees you being physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active on their own,” Rodgers said.

Additionally, being overweight or obese as a child can set the stage for developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and other conditions as an adult.

Noting the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s pledge to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015, RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey wrote in a blog last month, “We know we can do it, but we can’t do it alone.”

It takes a greater community effort, Lavizzo-Mourey wrote.

“The diverse group of states and communities with declines have instituted a wide range of programs to help families make healthy choices where they live, learn, play, and work—programs that can be adapted and scaled up by other regions,” Lavizzo-Mourey said. “All of these communities have one important thing in common—they have made childhood obesity prevention a priority.”

What’s the age a kid should start exercising?
Children and adolescents (ages 6 – 17) should be active 60 minutes (1 hour) or more each day.The activity does not need to be structured. Kids are naturally active and love to engage in play.It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety. Learn more about kids and physical activity at http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf.

Who and how the heck does anyone get 10-11 hours of sleep!?
I know! But that’s the point: Getting adequate sleep is important and should be a goal.The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life. Although sleep needs vary from person to person,the chart below shows general recommendations for different age groups.(http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html)

Age                                                     Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns                                       16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children            11–12 hours a day
School-aged children                  At least 10 hours a day
Teens                                                9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly)    7–8 hours a day

You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep. With enough sleep each night, you may find that you’re happier and more productive during the day. Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules.Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well-being now and in the future.

Here are a few tips to improve your sleep habits:

•    Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
•    Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends.Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
•    Use the hour before bed for quiet time.Avoid strenuous exercise and bright, artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
•    Taking the TV out of kids’ bedrooms also may help improve their sleep.

For more tips, visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/strategies.html.

What is considered obese? I have a gentleman in my office that is 64 and 199 pounds. We had a health risk assessment done at work, and they determined he was obese.
We define obesity using the body mass index (BMI).It is calculated from your height and weight. In general, BMI tracks with body fatness. It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build,and this is why BMI is used only as a screening tool.Learn more about BMI and tips to help adults at http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/young_heart.htm.

Is juicing safe for a 16-year-old?
If by juicing you mean making fresh juice from a variety of fruits and vegetables, then “juicing”can be a good way to get recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, if yourchild enjoys them. However, if your child gets fruits and vegetables from juicing alone, your child will miss out on the fiber that you get from whole fruits and vegetables. Learn more about healthy eating tips for teens here.

My daughter is 12.  She walks and plays daily. We have cut sweets. She drinks water – no sugary drinks or sodas and no fried foods – but she weighs 160 lbs. and can’t lose weight. What else can we do?  Her doctor says we need to cut more, but that would be fasting.
Talk with your doctor about your concerns. It could be that a referral to anutrition professional could help you and your daughterdevelop a healthy eating plan that works for your family.You can serve your daughter wateror low-fat or fat-free milk more often as a first choice drink; offer fresh fruit, more often than 100% fruit juice;and keep healthy food in the house for snacks and meals for the whole family.  Learn more about helping your overweight child at http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/child.htm#more_active

How much sleep is good for a 44-year-old male?
See response above for question, “Who and how the heck does anyone get 10-11 hours of sleep!?”

My daughter is 9 years old and very active but weighs 95 lbs. She only wants to do fun exercises. Please give me some pointers.
Small steps can help your family get on the road to maintaining a healthy weight.Choose a different tip each week for you and your family to try.  Here are some tips for healthy eating:

•    Consider quick, healthy breakfasts that are easy to grab and go, like cut up fruit with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, or instant oatmeal.
•    Encourage kids to drink water or low-fat or non-fat milk when they are thirsty.  And, limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sports drinks, and juice.Although even 100% juices have vitamins and other nutrients, they also have a lot of sugar—in some cases, as much as sugar-sweetened sodas.Try to limit juice to no more than 1 small glass or juice box a day.
•    Include your kids in planning a healthy menu for the week.  Then, go to the grocery store together and have them choose plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Also, you can be a role model by being active with your kids.

•    Be active as a family.Plan a trip to the zoo, play soccer together, or go for a walk to the park. If your child sees you being physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active on their own.

For more tips, visit We Can! at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/index.htm.

My name is Tina. I am 16 years old. I am 50 pounds overweight. What do I do? I tried everything.
It is really tough to struggle with your weight, and you’re not alone.  More than a thirdof teens are overweight and obese.  Talk with your doctor and your family about what you can do together to help you make changes to improve your health.  Learn more about taking charge of your health at http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/take_charge.htm.

With physical education programs being be cut out across the country and most kids having 2 – 3 hours of homework in the evening, how and where do we find the time to get them active? And, I’m not fat nor are my kids.
Our busy lives today make finding time for physical activity really difficult.  For more information, visit the CDC’s Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit, which highlights strategies that schools, families, and communities can use to support youth physical activity. http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm

My daughter wants to go out walking with me; she’s 8. How far is too far? 3, 4, or 5 miles?
It is great that your daughter wants to be active.  If she is healthy, let her set her limits.  Just be sensitive when she tells you that she has walked enough.  For specific medical advice, please check with your child’s doctor.

How can I teach my child about healthy eating when I to struggle with my weight?
With a majority of American adults overweight or obese, this is a very common situation. Resources are available to help you make the healthy choice the easy choice. Try to have family meals together, involve your child in planning and preparing meals, and limit eating at home to specific areas, such as the kitchen or dining room.  Learn more about helping your overweight child at http://win.niddk.nih.gov, and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/index.html.

I’m an obese woman, working at a job that doesn’t leave me much time to eat.Working overnight and during the day, I drink at least eight 20 oz. Cokes a day just to make it through the day. And I crave salt all the time, and I will eat it right out the box. I feel so drained during the day. How can I stop this behavior?
Please talk with your doctor about your concerns.  Your doctor can make sure that there are no other medical problems causing you to feel bad. Eating healthy is tough to manage when working long hours.  Your sleep schedule could also affect your health.  There is some evidence that too little sleep can have an influence on your appetite and weight.  The good news is that small steps can help improve your health.  The sodas contain sugar and calories.  Even switching to water or low-calorie beverages could help.  Learn more about healthy eating for adults at http://win.niddk.nih.gov, and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/index.html.

My granddaughter steals food. How can we help her stop?
Stealing or hoarding food can be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral disorder.  Please encourage your granddaughter’s parents to talk with her doctor about these concerns.

How do suggest I introduce fish and turkey into a child’s diet when he’s lost a taste for anything other than steak or bacon?
Start slowly and keep in mind that it can take multiple introductions of a new food before a child accepts it.Include your child in the meal preparation and grocery shopping.Learn more about helping your child eat healthy at http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov.

I have an overweight son who is a teenager .The problem began when he was young. I had to work until 12 at night, and he would eat like he wanted to. If he went to his father’s house, he didn’t care what or how much he would eat. Now as he gets older, I can tell it really bothers him. He only wears gym shorts year round, but I know he wants to dress like his brother. I’m worried about him; he has breathing problems sometimes. He love sports, he is about a 50 in the waist. Please help me anyway that you can.
Talk with your child’s doctor about your concerns, including his breathing problems.  Your doctor can work with you and your son to evaluate his weight and health and help you develop a plan.  Learn more about helping your teen take charge of his health at http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/take_charge.htm.

Is 5 days a week is too much for jogging?
It is important to check with your doctor before beginning or increasing your exercise program, especially if you have any health problems.

All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.  For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as jogging or running.  Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond what’s recommended.   Learn more about physical activity requirements at http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx.

My nephew is overweight for his age (he is 5 and 150 lbs.). He eats unhealthy, and his parents don’t require him to eat healthy although the doctor has stressed to following the doctor’s advice.
His parents may not be aware of the health risk of being overweight.  You can be a role model toyour nephew forhealthy eating and physical activity.You can encourage his parents to buy and serve more fruits and vegetables, offer him water or low-fat milk instead of fruit juice, plan healthy meals and eat together as family, and make the healthy choice the easy choice.You can also watch the Weight of the Nation Kids films together. You can access free films in English and Spanish at http://www.niddk.nih.gov. These films can be a real eye opener.

Some people are born fat and stay fat all their lives. Everybody can’t be thin. What then?
There are strong genetic contributors to obesity, but environment plays a role, too. Not everyone can be thin, but everyone can make lifestyle changes that will help them be healthier.Developing a plan for healthy eating and physical activity can help you to stay healthy, regardless of your ability to lose weight.  Because excess weight can cause health problems, be sure to check with your doctor to find out if you have any weight-related health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes that may need treatment. And don’t give up—even though you might never get down to a “normal” body weight, even a small amount of weight loss can reduce your risk for diabetes and other weight related medical conditions.

My grandson is obese.  He’s 14 years old.  I need help.My daughter feeds him way too much ever since he was a little boy.  The things she cooks him – I’m afraid – are slowing killing him.  For example, in one sitting, she will serve him mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, fried chicken, pork chops, corn, sweet rolls, and maybe some green beans (canned).  Top it off with cakes, pies, ice cream, etc. In between meals, he’s eating junk. All of this after he has already had a huge breakfast.  And, he stays in front of the t.v. and computers playing games.  My daughter and I have drag out shouting matches about what she is feeding him, but she’s not changing what she is doing to his health.  We have argued for years to the point of almost fighting.  Is there anywhere as a grandparent I can get help for my grandson?  He doesn’t know anything else but unhealthy foods. Please help me to help him. 
This is a really tough situation. His mom may not be aware of the health risks of being overweight.  You can invite her to watch the Weight of the Nation films with you—these films can be a real eye opener!

Even if you can’t get his mom to change the food she serves or the family TV and computer rules, you can help your grandson by being a good role model for healthy eating and physical activity.  Invite him to shop and cook with you, and try to spend some time with him being physically active—even if it’s just going for an after-dinner walk.  The Weight-control Information Network has a booklet for teens, “Take Charge of Your Health,” that provides tips on healthy eating and activity. And some of the information in “Helping Your Overweight Child,” can be helpful for grandparents, too—including learning how you can show him your love and support regardless of his weight.

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