Tags
Blog

'nutrition' posts

Childhood obesity

Eating healthy and being physically active are important things to keep in mind during and especially after the holidays when an abundance of food is present.

Parents often have questions about their child’s weight such as: Is my child’s weight appropriate? Is there a difference between being overweight and being obese? When should we be worried about his or her weight? If I am overweight, what is the risk that my child may become overweight?

Physicians often use the term BMI (body mass index) to define the terms overweight and obese, and this provides physicians and parents with a guide to monitor weight in children. BMI can be calculated using the weight and height (weight in kilo divided by square of height in meters; this can also be calculated using the BMI calculator. A child is considered overweight if the BMI is greater than the 85th percentile and obese if greater than 95th percentile. Once a child is obese, they are at risk of developing complications like hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc.

Physical activity should be a significant part of everyday life of your child. Each child should aim to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. They can be enrolled in an organized sports activity program like football, soccer, baseball, or swimming, or they can remain active by riding a bike, jogging and so on. Parents need to be aware if their child is playing video games for hours at a time and restrict the amount of screen time if necessary. Reduced television watching and computer use may reduce BMI and sedentary behavior.

Eating healthy plays an essential role in the well-being of every child. Studies have shown a lower prevalence of obesity in children who eat a healthy breakfast every day. Parents need to provide children with healthy food options at home so that they can develop a habit of eating healthy. It is important for children to try to eat all food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat or fish. Fats, oils and sweets must be consumed in limited amounts. Lifestyle modification involving the whole family is a key factor in maintaining healthy weight in children.

What if my child is obese or overweight?

Rather than Resolutions, Establish Healthy Habits

I’m all for a new year to spark good intentions, but the group of 100+ gym members that magically appear in January and hijack my stair climber only to stand at the top and text have proven again that the majority of these resolutions only last through February. That’s good news for my quads, but rather than brainstorm overly ambitious feats, why not establish healthy, realistic habits that everyone can carry out through next Christmas?

Healthy Weight

Let’s resolve to the BMI instead of the cover of People magazine to determine what a healthy weight is.

BMI (body mass index) calculation uses weight and height to determine one’s relative risk of disease. This number correlates with body fatness, but it’s important to remember that it is not a direction measure as it reflects both muscle and fat. (Click here to calculate your BMI.)

BMI is an inexpensive, quick and easy to-perform method of screening for weight categories that may lead to health problems. However, it doesn’t take into account frame size, bone density, muscle mass (highly trained athletes have high BMIs due to increase muscle mass), or body fat (women have more body fat than men, also older people have more body fat than younger).

Ideal Body Weight

So the BMI is one method for determining what your risk is at your present weight. What about if you want to know what your ideal weight range is? I recommend using this method (known as the Hamwi method):

  • Men: 106lbs for first 60” (5 ft) and 6lbs per inch thereafter ±10%
    • Example: 5’ 10” = 149-183 pounds
  • Women: 100lbs for first 60” (5 ft) and 5lbs per inch thereafter ±10%
    • Example: 5’ 3” = 104-127 pounds

Like using the BMI, you have to consider the interpretive standards for this calculation also. If you consider yourself to have a small frame, then use the lower end of this range; whereas if you have a large frame then you would use the upper end of this range.

How do you achieve an ideal weight?

If we want to reach or maintain a healthy weight, consuming a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity is essential.

What is a Healthy Diet?

It took me 4+ years and an expensive degree to develop a confident answer to this question…but to save you time and money, let’s look at the straightforward responses of two of my favorite authors:

Five Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Men and Women

I'm a family doctor at Swedish's South Lake Union Primary Care Clinic - if you're into new year's resolutions, here are five healthy ones to try:

(Listen to the end for a 'bonus' resolution)

Swedish Produces Short Video Featuring Two Quick, Easy and Healthy Holiday Drink Recipes

 Swedish recently shot and produced a short video featuring two recipes for quick, easy and healthy Holiday drinks.

Happy (Healthy) Holidays!

The more that has been done to a food, the less it has to offer you. Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains, enjoyed as close to their natural state as possible this holiday season, will keep your energy levels high, your appetite content, and weight gain off your worry list.

Reunite with Your Appetite

These next few months feel like the fast-forward button is stuck on…work demands remain high, yet family and friends require a significantly greater share of your attention. I fully support the extra shot of espresso to fill your tank this season, as long as you put the brakes on and slow way down at the dinner table.

It takes at least 20 minutes after you start eating for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s receiving food and to slow production of hunger hormones (ghrelin) and kick up production of leptin (satiety hormone). If you are shoveling food in your mouth like you are training to take on Takeru Kobayashi (hot dog eating champ), you are going to end up miserable. Slow down. Take time to chew thoroughly, put your fork down between bites, breathe, and enjoy the company.

Speaking of company…unfortunately when we are graced with the presence of loved ones, we tend to eat much more than we would by ourselves. Eating with just one other person encourages you to eat about 35% more, and in a group of 7 or more, you’ll eat roughly 96% more than you would if you were eating alone. Now you have an excuse not to invite that bizarre cousin right? Kidding. For those of us blessed with large families and parties of friends, make sure to pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table (anyone in a highchair is fair game), start eating last, and determine how much you are going to eat before you sit down. We eat about 92% of what we dish up in the buffet line, so now is the time to be chintzy (not on your Uncles gift). If there is a choice in plate size, go for the smaller one. Just a two-inch smaller diameter plate (from 12 to 10”) reduces your consumption by 22%. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you have reached the point where you are too full (it’s too late).

Put Vegetables on the Guest List

During the holidays we do a fine job getting our fix of fruits (apple pie, wine), grains (gingerbread), and meats (duck, turkey, or whatever other animals we aren’t willing to prepare the other 360 something other days a year). What about our true friends that are packed full of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber), while contributing few calories and little fat? Vegetables! Displace 20% of your plate with these guys and you will save a couple hundred calories. There are 3,500 calories per pound, so do the math: Over the next two month celebration marathon, that’s a new years resolution besides losing weight gained over the holidays!

Embrace the season – focus on seasonal winter vegetables, such as:

Lunchbox Battles

In order to be successful in school, our children need fuel. School lunches can be tough. We have to balance what is healthy and what our child will eat. There’s also the distraction factor.  They have 20 minutes and a cafeteria or gym full of other kids who are all talking and eating.  The distraction is enough to delay nutritional intake past the time when lunch is over. (To see what I'm talking about, Try to fit in a lunchtime visit to your child’s school sometime. Prearranged with your child and the office. You'll be amazed.)

So, we need something tasty and quick and easy to prepare, but nutritionally sound and easy for our kids to eat quickly.

An Appetite for Spring

The start of Spring doesn’t just mean we can now justify complaining about the weather (as I did, starting March 20th). It is the exciting start to a vibrant produce season! You may have received the hint from bundled asparagus spears taking over the produce displays at your local supermarket that the season has indeed changed. Aren’t you curious to know what else will be taking the place of those winter root vegetables on your plate?

Spring Produce

Some of the produce you will be seeing this season includes rhubarb, chives, bamboo shoots, asparagus, Chinese vegetables, lettuce, radish, and spinach. Berries will be beginning to make an appearance by the end of the season.

Why eat seasonally?

If you are eating according to season, you are probably eating locally as well. Besides the obvious benefit to the environment, if your food isn’t traveling far, you will be saving money and will get a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. You will enjoy your produce at the peak of ripeness, so your taste buds will thank you as well.

What do I do with…?

Results 64-70 of 70