KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The CDC reports more than 14 million young people are obese.
For some children, genetics are to blame but for many others, eating habits are a big part of the problem.
Many of our eating habits are formed at a very young age. A local pediatrician is urging parents to help their kids practice mindful eating.
A staggering one in five children and adolescents are considered obese which is well above the normal or healthy weight for their age and height.
“It’s not so much the obesity but it’s the eating habits and the eating patterns that we as adults or children tend to conform to,” said Pediatrician Alvaro Reymunde at PAK Pediatrics.
Dr. Reymunde says it’s not so much about the weight, but how children are eating. And it starts with adults being good role models for their kids.
“We have to show them that we, too, are eating our vegetables. We, too, are eating what we’re supposed to be eating but that it’s okay also to indulge in a snack or a dessert, you know, from time to time,” said Dr. Reymunde.
Obesity in childhood and adolescence carries risk factors into adulthood even if those kids and teens eventually achieve normal weight. Much is at stake.
“There have been many studies showing that the heavier we are and the more detrimental dietary habits we have, chances are that we could end up with Type 2 Diabetes or hypercholesterolemia which is high cholesterol or increased blood pressure,” said Dr. Reymunde.
Helping children develop a healthy relationship with food is of utmost importance. Penn State Extension offers several tips for mindful eating including taking smaller bites, chewing slowly, and finish chewing and swallowing before putting more food on a fork or spoon.
“Our eating habits can change and that’s really what I’ve been trying to hammer into my patients. It’s not so much about the weight but it’s how we’re eating,” said Dr. Reymunde.
Other tips include encouraging healthy snacks and changing up the ingredients for veggies and even fruit.
The CDC offers more tips on how to help children develop a healthy relationship with food.