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How parents can help kids make healthy eating habits to avoid risk of health conditions

Kids on a playground. (WCIV)
Kids on a playground. (WCIV)
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Doctors are warning parents about a growing risk of health conditions like strokes and heart attacks in children.

Since the pandemic, a lot more people fell into that sedentary lifestyle- not moving as much, and eating a lot more for comfort. But doctors say those decisions can seriously impact not just adults, but kids, leading to very bad health conditions over time.

“We tend to think of adults as having sleep apnea or is having diabetes or liver issues because of their weight but children,” said Dr. Christina Brown, a Pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente. “Some of my patients have sleep apnea, true severe sleep apnea from their weight. It's heartbreaking, but then I tell patients this is all reversible. We can get you to your goal we can you know get the weight off as we work together on healthy lifestyle habits.”

Doctors say since COVID-19, they are seeing more kids come in with higher cholesterol, which over time can lead to an increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Children who are obese at a young age are more likely to be obese when they’re older. That’s why doctors say it’s time to get kids into these good healthy lifestyle habits now. It sets them up to continue those behaviors when they’re older.

“I have patients that have what's called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, meaning the fat goes all through your body including in your liver and it can affect your liver functioning,” said Brown. “So these are all reversible, but these are real things that you know we need to address and not put off until children are older.”

Families can take steps like practicing intuitive eating. Are you eating right now because you’re hungry? Or is it because you’re bored, upset, or tired?

Eating a meal then taking a break before going to get seconds can help. Also, get the family involved by going on a walk together, cooking together, or shopping for groceries together. It’s easier when you have a support system.

Obesity can impact mental health too.

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“We're in a mental health crisis,” said Brown. “So you know the two are closely related. If you're being bullied for your weight, if you're feeling down you may not make as good food choices for yourself, and that can lead to more obesity and other issues. So it's really important to address with each child as well.”

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