Wheeler Health Spotlight (April 2018)
Fighting Childhood Obesity
"Every Kid Healthy Week" is the last week of April, and Wheeler's Family Health & Wellness Centers (in Bristol, New Britain and Hartford) and Child & Adolescent Center of Excellence offer a full range of services to keep kids (and their parents!) healthy.
Obesity is a major factor in anyone's overall health, and this is especially true for children, who are learning lessons that they will carry with them for life. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, and the prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011 (source). This summer, individuals and families that Wheeler serves in the Hartford area will have access to nutrition services and even fresh vegetables at our new Corsini Kitchen, located at 43 Woodland Street in Hartford.
A recent article on Wheeler's online Health Resource Library highlights some strategies for teaching healthy habits and preventing obesity in children:
- Eat as a family. Positive family interaction has been listed in studies published in many journals, including Pediatrics, as key to preventing weight gain.
- Don't insist that kids clean their plates. Parents who pressure their kids to finish all the food on their plate or who insist on controlling their kids' eating may contribute to their becoming overweight and keep them from learning what true hunger feels like.
- Make sure kids get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, particularly for children.
- Reduce kids' exposure to stress. High stress levels within the family can contribute to childhood obesity, too.
- Maintain a healthy weight yourself. When parents are overweight, the risk of their kids becoming overweight increases.
- Promote a healthier lifestyle. Offer more fruits and vegetables, reduce sugary drinks, and increase water intake. Reduce TV or "screen time" and increase activity time.