Get moving: Four tips for having healthy kids

When First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move national campaign to reduce childhood obesity, she said that the Obama Administration is determined to take on one of the most serious threats to the future of American children today: “the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.”

Mrs. Obama said the Let’s Move campaign, among many initiatives, is working in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics in “supporting their groundbreaking efforts to ensure that doctors not only regularly measure children’s BMI, but actually write out a prescription detailing steps parents can take to keep their kids healthy and fit.”

Pediatrician Jennifer Helmcamp, MD, Scott & White–Round Rock, runs the Get Fit, Get Healthy, Get Moving—or G3 Program—for overweight children and their families in Williamson County. Here she offers four tips for having healthy kids.

Check with Your Kid’s Doctor.

“First, if your child’s going to start any kind of exercise program, he or she needs to see a pediatrician first. Make sure your child has no underlying health problems that need to be addressed and make sure he or she is cleared to exercise,” Dr. Helmcamp suggests. For example, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels and abnormal glucose tolerance may cause complications in beginning an exercise program.

Model Good Living.

“Second, in order to improve healthy habits at home,” Dr. Helmcamp says, “the parent has to do it, too. The parent has to model good behavior. If you want your child to eat healthfully, you have to do it first. If you want your child to eat carrots instead of potato chips, you have sit down at the table and eat carrots. Your child has to see you sitting at the table eating carrots. It’s that simple. It’s the same with physical activity. If you want your child to get exercise, you have to go out and exercise, too.”

The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains and low in red meats and fatty and sweet foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

Walk Together as a Family.

“The best thing for every family is to go out for a walk after dinner. There are a lot of benefits to this activity. You’ll get daily exercise outdoors, you’ll spend time together talking about the day and what happened at school, and you’ll meet your neighbors and make new friends. You’ll feel better all around. I think as a nation we’d be healthier and have happier neighborhoods if we all did this every day,” says Dr. Helmcamp.

Have Healthful Foods at Home.

“You need to make your home a haven for good, healthy behavior. Get the junk food out of your house. Throw it away, so that neither you nor your children will be tempted at home. The fatty, unhealthful foods can exist outside of your home, but let your home be a place of good, positive, healthful eating. Let it be a safe place, a refuge from the outside world, where your kids know that everything there is good for them,” Dr. Helmcamp suggests.

These hints from Dr. Helmcamp can help get your children on the move toward a lifetime of healthful living.

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Get moving: Four tips for having healthy kids