September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
Children play basketball at the base gym. Physical activity is important and children learn behaviors from their parents, so be active, walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball. Demonstrate the behaviors you want your child to emulate and establish your child's healthy behaviors early. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
JOint Base San Antonio, Texas — The U.S. military needs volunteers to be healthy enough to answer the Nation's call but more than 12.7 million U.S. children and teenagers are classified as overweight or obese.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month to bring attention to the facts that childhood obesity is a health issue that puts children at risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke but it is preventable through lifestyle changes.
Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) John Oberlin, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Brooke Army Medical Center, Pediatric Subspecialty Clinic stated that "we focus on childhood obesity to prevent what is referred to as premature adult diseases in children."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't short-term dietary changes; it's about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. Change your eating style by making small changes over time.
"I recommend that my patients follow the '5210 rule' in regards to healthy weight control; eat 5 servings of vegetables or fruit, get 2 hours or less of screen time on electronic devices per day, 1 hour of physical activity, and 0 sweetened beverages such as sodas or juice."
Oberlin explained that the '5210 rule' is fairly universal but his clinic has added '9' to the rule to represent the nine hours of recommended sleep per night because when people are properly rested they make better decisions and tend to avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Healthy eating habits are a key factor for maintain a healthy weight and the ChooseMyPlate.gov website can assist you with finding nutritional information of foods, tracking your calorie intake, planning meals, and finding healthy recipes.
Physical activity is important and children learn behaviors from their parents, so be active, walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. Demonstrate the behaviors you want your child to emulate and establish your child's healthy behaviors early.
Oberlin recommends that, despite the struggle to limit the time we all spend on electronic devices that parents should look for creative ways to manage the time or use apps and games to get kids outside.
"If your child wants more than the two hours of screen time you can let your child earn the extra time by doing healthy activities such as outside play or eating more healthy foods," said Oberlin. "It's better if it's a family activity with the parents involved."
Oberlin explains that, children who are overweight or in risk of becoming obese are referred to the Healthy Habits Clinic at BAMC, where the group meets once a month to learn about health lifestyle choices and activities. Parents are incorporated in the groups that are focused on education, group activities, and support.
The Healthy Habits Clinic concept has been adopted by the general practice pediatricians at other San Antonio military treatment facilities for patients who live in outlying areas to learn about healthy lifestyle choices.
"We are looking to change the way people view healthy living to something enjoyable instead of an unpleasant thing you have to do."
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