The statistics on childhood obesity in America are alarming. More than one-third of children and adolescents are obese or overweight. The health effects they will take into adulthood are serious, as are the social and psychological burdens overweight children sometimes bear.
Parents and individuals who want to learn about healthy choices for themselves and their families should plan to attend Eat, Play, Love: Obesity Is a Family Matter, on Sunday afternoon, June 29.
Organized by the Twin Cities Maimonides Society, a division of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul, the mini-conference also will feature information for people who work with children and other health professionals to learn the latest medical thinking on the causes and effects of childhood obesity.
Dr. Robert Lustig, “the anti-processed food guy” recently featured in the film Fed Up, is the keynote speaker. His lecture, Sugar, The Bitter Truth, has more than 4.5 million views on You Tube.
Dr. Lustig will speak at 1 p.m., and local experts will begin teaching breakout sessions for parents and medical professionals at 2:45 p.m. It’s your choice – come just for Dr. Lustig’s remarks, or hear him speak and stay for the breakout sessions. Go to www.jewishminnesota.org/healthyliving.aspx for details and to purchase tickets.
As a registered dietitian and nutritionist specializing in weight management and as the mom of two grown children, I know how challenging it can be to get your family to eat their veggies. The good news is that there are lots of strategies for making small changes over time that add up to big gains in health.
Here are seven things families can do right now – simple, common-sense lifestyle changes that are easy, bring families together, and are even fun!
Eat breakfast. A balanced breakfast of half protein and half carbohydrate is great for keeping us sharp and jumpstarting our metabolism. Think eggs, cottage cheese or yogurt, paired with whole grain toast or a high-fiber cereal and some fruit.
- Eat family meals together. Make mealtime fun and a time to share stories of the day. Avoid arguments and battles about what foods are or are not being eaten. Limit distractions like television, computers and cell phones.
- Eat like a rainbow. Choose a wide variety of fresh, frozen and canned fruits (in water or extra-light syrup) and vegetables; they all count. Aim for at least five fruits and vegetables a day (kids just need smaller portions).
- Limit screen time to less than two hours. Keep TVs, computers, and video games out of the bedroom. Physicians recommend avoiding screen time for children under two.
- Move your body! Encourage all kinds of movement and activity – 30 minutes a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for children.
- Get your ZZZZ’s. Sleep is crucial to repair and maintain your body. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. Make sure everyone in your family turns the lights out at a reasonable hour. Preschoolers need 11 to12 hours, school age children and teens need nine to 10 hours, and adults need seven to eight hours.
- Shrink the sugar. Cut back on sugary foods and beverages, and eat more whole foods.
Want to be eligible to win two tickets to Eat, Play, Love: Obesity Is a Family Matter? Leave a comment – tell us your healthy living tip.
Sharon Lehrman is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with more than 30 years of expertise working with every age group from prenatal to healthy aging. She has a private practice in St. Louis Park and is past-president of the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. View her website at www.NutritionHealthandWellness.com.