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How to Raise a Healthy Child

If you think your child is among the 17 to 19 percent of children in the United States who are obese, a few lifestyle changes may be in order.

Being significantly overweight at any age is harmful to your health, but obesity during childhood can have long-term, life-altering effects.

“Obesity increases the risk of a number of health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease,” says Alisa Peterson, D.O., F.A.C.O.I. and hospitalist on the medical staff at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital. “That’s why it is so important to be proactive about your child’s weight and health.”

Taking steps now can save your child problems in the future. Here are a few helpful hints for getting your child to a healthy weight:

• Schedule regular visits with your child’s pediatrician. Your physician can help your child set goals for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

• Make daily activity a part of family life. Encourage your child to be active for at least an hour every day, and schedule family outings such as hikes or bike rides.

• Reduce fat and sugar intake. Serve more whole grains and vegetables and replace candy, chips and cookies with fruit and healthy snacks.

• Watch serving amounts. Research portion sizes to make sure your family is not over-eating.

• Don’t be critical. Children and adolescents are very sensitive about appearance, so emphasize the importance of health rather than looking good. (Summer 2008)

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