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    Prevention Starts at Home

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | September 3rd, 2023

    Prevention Starts at Home

    I was again telling the story of when my mother came home from the pediatrician’s office. The pediatrician had told my mother that at the rate my sister was going, she would be obese by the time she was a teenager. At the time, I was about 12 years old, and my sister was six. My mother came home and threw away everything sweet in the house. Our diet was forever changed. I was annoyed and told her, “We (meaning my brother and me) did not have the problem; why should we suffer.” She said, “If one person is going to be on a diet, we are all going to be on a diet.” Looking back, I can now appreciate what she did. The best diet in the home is one in which everyone can participate.

    September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. About 1 in 5 children in the United States has obesity. It is a significant public health problem. 

    Children who are obese are at a higher risk of having chronic health diseases such as asthma, sleep apnea, and Type 2 diabetes. They are more often bullied and teased. They are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem. They are more likely to be obese when they are adults.

    Prevention of obesity starts at home. What is good for adults to maintain a healthy weight is suitable for children. You might not control how children eat outside the home, but you have power when they are in the house. Children cannot drive, so whatever is in the home is what they have.

    1. Provide nutritious, lower calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables in the house – keep this at eye level where children can reach. Fruits and vegetables should be their snacks. I know that sometimes fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive. Frozen fruits and vegetables work well; if you choose a canned product, you must read the label to ensure no added sugar.
    2. Make sure drinking water is always available. Limit the amount of juice. Do not bring sugary drinks like soda into the home. Avoid diet drinks. If your child grows up drinking water, they will get used to drinking water.
    3. Encourage your children to be physically active. Limit the time in front of video games or television. Encourage sports. Use this opportunity to exercise with the children. Dance with your children. Walk with your children. Sign up with your children for community activities.
    4. Make sure your children have healthy sleep habits. There should not be a television in the children’s bedroom. Children should have a regular bedtime. Click here for the amount of sleep. It is dependent on the age of the child.
    5. Be a role model. If you are eating healthy, your children will be eating healthy.

    For more information on National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, please click here.

    One Response to “Prevention Starts at Home”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      As always, pearls of wisdom from my favorite OB/GYN! Childhood obesity, and all that accompanies it, is a chronic problem here in the US. Thank you again for, not only the information, but tips on combating the issue.

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