Nutrition for Your Kids

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Why should healthy nutrition be a part of our children’s lives?
Simply, because nutrients found in certain foods fuel their muscles to give them more energy.  Healthy foods also nourish their body, improve their development, and help them manage their weight.  For this reason, it is important to understand why healthy nutrition is an essential tool for our children in order to avoid obesity problems.  Today obesity in children and teenagers is a serious matter of public concern because of the health and social consequences that usually continue into their adult lives.  This is why I love to create an attitude of prevention in my fitness programs for children; so that, I can help reduce the impact of this obesity epidemic in the future. 

How Do You Help Children Who Are Overweight According to the American Heart Association?

Reaching and maintaining an appropriate body weight is important.  That is why recommendations that focus
on small but permanent changes in eating may work
better than a series of short-term changes that cannot be sustained

  • Reducing caloric intake is the easiest change.  Highly restrictive diets that forbid favorite foods are likely to fail.  They should be limited to rare patients with severe complications who must lose weight quickly.
  • Becoming more active is widely recommended.  Increased activity is common in all studies of successful weight reduction. Creating an environment that fosters physical activity is important
  • Parent involvement in modifying overweight children's behavior is important. Parents who model healthy eating and activity can positively influence their children's health.

In treating most overweight children, the main emphasis should be to prevent weight gain above what is appropriate for expected increases in height.  This is called prevention of increased weight gain velocity.  For many children this may mean limited or no weight gain while they grow taller.  Recommendations for maintaining weight should include regular physical activity and careful attention to diet to avoid too many calories. Factors predicting success are

  • frequent intervention visits
  • including parents in the dietary treatment program
  • strong social support of dietary intervention from others involved in food preparation
  • regular exercise routine, including social support

The importance of continuing these lifestyle changes well past the initial treatment period should be emphasized to the entire family.  The healthiest way to change weight is gradually.

How is body fat measured?

The body mass index (BMI) formula assesses weight relative to height. It is a useful, indirect measure of body composition because for most people it correlates highly with body fat.  Weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2).   Or multiply weight in pounds by 703; divide by height in inches, and then divide again by height in inches.

For more information about this topic, please visit: www.americanheart.org

 

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