Wednesday, January 18, 2017

95 Percent of Parents Think Their Overweight Children Look 'Just Right'

(John Moore/Getty Images)

When researchers recently looked at data on how parents perceive their overweight young children, they learned that 94.9 percent believe the kids' size to be "just right." As startling and unsettling as that statistic may be, it had been shown before in smaller populations and wasn't the worst news out of the study.
More disturbing was what the researchers found when they compared the results with the same survey taken about two decades earlier. Over the years, they realized, the chances of a child "being appropriately perceived by the parents declined by 30%." African American and low-income parents had the most inaccurate perceptions.
"We have changed our perceptions of what our weight ideals are," even among kids aged 2 to 5, who were the subjects of this study, said Dustin T. Duncan, an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, who led the research. Most parents can no longer tell what a healthy weight looks like, and their doctors aren't helping them understand, Duncan said.
"If every other child is obese or overweight, you would think your child" is normal as well, he added. (The study also showed that 78.4 percent of parents of obese children believed them to be "just right,"  but it made no comparison to earlier data for that group.)
Instead of focusing on small groups of overweight or obese kids as other studies have, Duncan's research used a national sample of children and parents surveyed for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1988 and 1994, and others questioned for the same survey between 2007 and 2012. Both samples had more than 3,000 children.
Parents were asked the "Goldilocks" question: "Do you consider [child’s name] to be: overweight, underweight, just about the right weight, or don’t know?" Researchers compared those responses with the children's data on standard childhood growth curves.
With parental attitudes quite similar in both surveys and more overweight children in the population today, the chances of any child being seen correctly had declined sharply, according to the study, which was published online in the June edition of the journal Childhood Obesity.
The study contains a number of lessons, none of them pleasant. First, while some research has shown a possible plateau in the childhood obesity stats, the problem isn't going away anytime soon. Duncan focused on 2- to 5-year-olds because that's the age when poor eating habits can take root.
"We know that overweight pre-school children tend to be overweight school children, they tend to be overweight adolescents, and it follows them into adulthood," Duncan said.
More obviously, some parents have lost a clear idea of what a healthy youngster looks like, just as we all have as waistlines have expanded throughout our society. (If you've ever had the opportunity to travel to France or Japan, where many people maintain a healthy body weight, you know exactly what I mean.) In African American and poor neighborhoods, where overweight and obese kids are more common, this phenomenon is more prevalent.
And finally, pediatricians need to do a much better job of explaining what a healthy growth curve looks like, Duncan said. While the study didn't examine the idea, it's probable that parents with these perception problems are overweight themselves, Duncan said.
"Most people don't understand what it means to be overweight ... and for a parent, I think it's really hard to understand these growth charts," he said.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

New Pages Added!

Are you looking for ways to keep your family meals within a budget or searching for creative lunch box ideas for your kids? Well we've added 2 new pages to help solve those problems! Lunch Box Solutions and Weekly Meal Planning.

Much of my motivation comes not only from wanting to feed my family with healthy choices, but also because my husband is type 1 diabetic. To help reduce the risk of my own children being diagnosed with the hereditary disease, I've adopted a limited sugar/paleo friendly diet. Instead of the traditional American meal surrounded by meat, empty calorie starch and small veggie side portion - many of my meals include a double veggie portion.

Please share your comments on different meal planning and lunch box ideas you've come up with!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Is Paleo Diet Right For Kids, Too?

I've recently discovered that the 'diet' I've been following has been the Paleo diet. Years ago I read something that said, 'eat like a caveman' as the healthiest way for deciding food choices. At the time, this healthy way of eating hadn't been labeled Paleo yet so when I heard everyone talking about it, I thought to myself, 'self, here's another fad diet that will be gone in 2 years' (yes, I refer to myself in second person whenever I'm talking to myself...).

If you are reading this post, that means that you too have assessed your own diet and further want to make sure your children are eating healthy as well.  With so many fad diets around I've tried to look at my 'diet' as not something short term but what are my long term goals. Therefore, once I realized that I was already eating close to the Paleo diet plan and my eating habits had a name and some structure which I could gather lots of information on the nutritional benefits I began to think - what would happen if my kids also adopted this way of eating. Well, of course the internet confirmed I'm not the only one who has thought this. There are lots of blogs available from others who have explored this thought further.

I encourage those who are reading this to do the same. If you read anything about the nutritional benefits of the Paleo way of eating then you will naturally wonder if all the grains and processed foods our children consume have a long term negative affect, then you will probably think twice about Cheerios in the morning too...

Please post your comments below. I'll be exploring this concept much further in the months ahead and value your thoughts.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Setting A Good Example - Early

One of the best ways my husband and I are able to demonstrate to our boys the importance of exercising and eating healthy everyday - is through our own example. We all live busy lives and finding time to be active can be challenging. But if you do it together then your children will also learn early in life how important it is to maintain a healthy life - for the rest of their life.

Here, we finished the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walkathon around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The boys complained most of the time during the 3 mile walk but we encouraged them to continue and let them know this cause meant a lot to our family because the disease is prevalent in my husband's family. Once we completed the walk, it gave the boys a great since of accomplishment!

Today, we took the boys out along a local bike path while we walked along. It was a similar 3-4 mile ride/walk so we all got our necessary movement for the day. When you exercise together as a family, the benefits go far more than physical.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How To Know Your Children Are Getting Enough Daily Nutrients

If your family is as busy as mine, your time is filled with sports practices, after school enrichment, swimming lessons, music lessons…. the list is endless – not to mention working a full time job and tackling homework. With a schedule this packed its hard not to be tempted by the convenience of drive thru. So while you may be putting in the effort to make sure your children are eating healthy, how do you know they are getting enough nutrients to support their growing bodies? Build Healthy Kids has an easy 5 minute online assessment you can take to help determine if your kids are getting the required amount of daily essentials

Based on the quick assessment of my younger son (age 6), his fruit and vegetable servings per day were good, but I definitely have room for improvement. Such as adding half a banana with his honey oats and ½ cup of whole milk for his morning breakfast. When packing the boys lunches (my other son is 9), I always make sure there is at minimum an apple sauce squeezer but now I’ll also add grapes, apple slices, or other fruit of their liking to the after school snack. 

Another challenge with my younger son is he doesn’t like chicken very much. He’ll eat chicken nuggets or homemade chicken strips (click here for my kid friendly recipe but any other preparation and he balks. Therefore, I’ve increased black beans and rice mixed with fresh cut corn (or canned when I’m in a hurry).

I encourage you to take the assessment as well. While we can’t obsess over making sure our children are receiving exactly 2 cups of milk per day or that they ate a rainbow throughout the day, its always a good idea to make sure you are in the ballpark of what keeps our kids healthy.  Please let us know if your kids are getting enough daily nutrients in the comments below. Create more healthy kids!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Play An Active Role In Your Child’s School Fitness and Nutrition Programs

Are you concerned that your child’s school isn’t doing enough to keep the children active or offering healthy food choices? Well, now you can get involved and help initiate some changes. Everything has a catalyst or tipping point – who better than you to get things started? The Let’s Move coalition sponsored by Michelle Obama provides pointers and guides on how to contact your child’s school and organize a school health team.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just Because It’s Winter Doesn’t Mean The Activities Have To Stop!

Don’t let the rainy cold weather be an excuse to let your preschooler veg in front of the TV this winter. There are some great indoor activities ideas including this one: Create Your Own Indoor Obstacle Course.  They offer lots of fun for several children at a time to work out some of that active energy!

If you really want to keep the kids busy for hours, have them set up a fake laser security system. Take bright colored string and tie it between objects in diagonal, vertical, and horizontal directions. The kids then try to move from one room to the next without touching the strings. Whoever gets to the end without being ‘zapped’ wins (for an extra challenge, use different colored strings and travel between the same colored strings, i.e., only step between the red strings and not the green strings).

Another fun outdoor activity that has been converted to play safely indoors is Red Light, Green Light. Have your child stand at least 20 feet away from you and yell out green light for them to go and red light for them to stop. Instead of having your child run in the house, they can skip, hop, or crawl towards you. 

But I think my favorite of all is Copy Dancing. Your child creates the dance moves – and you copy them! Kids love to be the leaders and this is a good way to get both of you moving while having lots of fun. At the end, crank up the music and have a free dance moment. Get an older child to videotape and share with friends and family!