Dr. Cooper talks childhood obesity, myths, how to stay fit

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 12:19 PM

Obesity is becoming more and more prevalent in children across the county. Dr. Emily Cooper of Seattle Performance Medicine joined KING 5 to debunk some myths about childhood obesity and talk about how to keep children fit.

What can you do to keep your kids at a healthy weight?

Most people think that they should cut back on food if their kids have a weight problem, but that is not the right answer. Just as with adults, deprivation diets are not recommended. Instead, have healthy snacks around the house so when kids go to grab something, there's always something there. Children need nutrition and a balanced diet with three meals and snacks to fuel normal growth development.      

Don't focus on BMI

School districts have begun sending out letters and alerts to parents when a child's BMI is over a certain level. This can be really devastating to kids, as well as parents. Be aware of weight gains and losses, but BMI is not the most reliable measurement. With growth spurts in girls age nine to 14 and boys age 11 to 16, it's perfectly normal to gain six pounds before every inch that they grow. It appears that they are gaining weight, but their bodies are just prepping for a normal growth spurt.

How do you talk to kids about obesity?

Parents should avoid talking about diets or bodies or weight in the house, even if it's not about themselves or their kids. It can leave a lasting impression on children if they start to associate being thin with beauty and being fat with ugliness. Focusing on what's on the inside rather than the outside is so important for kids during puberty, as their bodies are changing.   

What are some other important things to keep kids healthy?

Sometimes for medial reasons, you can't prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese. It's not their fault, and its not yours. Participate in fun physical activities with your kids, like walking hiking or biking. Anything that is enjoyable that you can do as a family is really helpful.          

How to have a healthy home for kids

  • Avoid diet, body, and weight talk
  • Eat meals together
  • Regular bedtime, eight hours or more of sleep
  • Have plenty of healthy foods available

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