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Childhood Obesity Ollie the otter says being overweight can lead to health problems. If you want to know why more and more kids are overweight today than ever before, read on. The answers are in what they eat and their lack of physical activity.

The food connection

The physical side

Families are very busy. This may lead to less time for healthy meal planning and less time to eat as a family at the table.

Today’s children are the least active in history. Few of our schools require physical education anymore. We have fewer children walking or riding their bicycles to school.

That’s why fast foods have become so popular. Processed foods allow us to get dinner on the table faster. We eat fewer fresh vegetables because it takes longer to cook them.

Children watch television or use the computer instead of going outside and playing. The American Academy of Pediatrics says limit screen time to less than 2 hours per day. They also recommend 1 hour of exercise per day.

We often eat on the run. “I’ll grab a burger and fries” is a common answer to a quick meal. And fast food restaurants and makers of sweet treats and other snack foods often market to children. We also program children to “clean your plate”—that wasting food is a bad thing. Portion control is more important.

There are plenty of parks for playing, walking or riding bicycles.

To find parks near you, visit: and look for the park guide, under services.

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Gwinnett Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (770) 995-0823 •

Childhood Obesity Changing food habits For the most part, children eat what they are given. And for most, what they eat is habit forming. Try these tips: • Fresh fruits for snacks. • Cook fresh or frozen vegetables. • Teach your child to read food labels. Make it a game (Example: What has less fat and less sugar?). • Limit fast food to once a week or less. • Watch portion sizes at each meal. • Serve more fiber (it tends to make you feel full). Look for more than 3 grams of fiber per serving. • Plan ahead. Know what you need from the grocery store. • Don’t keep high calorie foods around.

Remember 5-2-1-0* This stands for: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day 2 hours or less of screen time per day 1 hour or more of physical exercise per day

Change one thing at a time.

0 sugary drinks (includes juice, sweet tea and sports drinks). Drink more water and low fat milk * Adapted from the Let’s Go! Program: Copyright © 2010 Pritchett & Hull Associates, Inc. DO NOT DUPLICATE.

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Gwinnett Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (770) 995-0823 •