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5 Ways to Promote a Positive Body Image for Kids

We live in a world that is obsessed with looks. No matter how much we try to protect kids from unrealistic expectations, they are still exposed to it through TV and movies, in magazines and online, at home with family, and at school among friends. You can help the kids in your life havea healthy body image with these five tips.

Start with You!

Runner Woman Flexing Her Arms

Before you do anything else, look at your own beliefs, actions, and behaviors. Do you have an unhealthy relationship with food or dieting? Be mindful of the message that you are sending about your attitude toward your own body and appearance. This includes criticizing yourself in ways that communicate that what you look like is more important than who you are.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us that kids will always pick up on the negative messages we send about ourselves. Be positive about your own body first, and then you’ll be able to help your child.

Inspire a Healthy Relationship with Food

Mother and Daughter Shopping at the Supermarket

Encourage children to eat a healthy variety of foods, in moderate amounts. Food shouldn’t be treated as either a reward or a punishment, but simply a method for satisfying hunger. Kids should not be focused weight, calories, or rules. Remind children to pay attention to their bodies’ hunger cues, and eat tasty, healthy snacks that will fuel their bodies through their favorite activities.

Get Active

Kids Playing a Soccer Match

Part of a healthy body image is the feeling of being fit and strong. Encourage your children to play! This could be through organized team sports like soccer or softball, or solo activities like riding a bike or swimming. The American Heart Association encourages children to practice physical activity daily for strong hearts, better sleep, more energy, and healthy muscles, bones, and joints.

Build Self-Esteem

Group of Kids Smilling

A National Institutes of Health study found that children learn about healthy and unhealthy body images and self-esteem from friends and family. It’s important that the message kids receive is that self-esteem should not be tied to being “perfect.” Kids should be encouraged to focus on what their bodies can do—not what they look like. Bodies that can play, run, dance, jump, and climb are bodies that should be appreciated. Children that feel good about their bodies are more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem.

Be Supportive

Family Sitting on a Couch Talking

Children who feel safe and supported are often healthier, better adjusted, and less likely to be unhappy with their body or self-image. Parents and grandparents should aim to create an environment where children feel comfortable asking questions and sharing uncomfortable thoughts. Kids whose family members listen to their concerns and discuss how real value is found in character and not appearance, will have better self-esteem, and are less likely to fall into the negative body image trap.

For other ways to reinforce a healthy body image for kids, consider enrolling in AltaMed’s 12-month STOMP Wellness and Family Nutrition Program. Through classes and activities, your family will get tips for healthy eating, family fitness exercises, and participate in fun challenges! You and your family could even win prizes!

Call us for more information on STOMP:

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AltaMed two Kids Brushing their Teeth

Keeping Your Child’s Smile Healthy

Seeing your child smile is a great feeling. Keeping that smile healthy can take some work. Children’s dental health can be easy to overlook, but the truth is it’s essential to their overall wellbeing. Pain or infections caused by tooth decay can lead to serious physical and mental complications down the road. Check out these helpful facts and tips to keep your child, and their mouth, feeling good.

A Mouthful of Facts

Kid Smiling
  • Cavities (tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States.
  • Roughly 20% of children ages 5 through 11 has at least one untreated cavity.
  • Tooth decay can cause extreme discomfort or disease that could lead to difficulty eating, speaking, and learning.
  • 69% of Americans get fluoride through local drinking water, which can help protect teeth. Most bottled waters do not contain fluoride.

First Steps: Dealing with Baby Teeth

Baby Showing Teeth

It’s important to begin monitoring your infant’s teeth as soon as they come in. Check for consistency in coloring and alert a dentist if you notice any stains or spots. Clean with a soft washcloth or baby-specific toothbrush. Around the age of two, you can begin using a regular, fluoride toothpaste.

Check out some more quick pointers for keeping their first set of teeth in tip-top shape:

  • Avoid leaving your baby with a bottle at night or during naptime.
  • Never cover pacifiers with sugary substances like honey.
  • Start healthy habits early by skipping sugary drinks and juices and go for water instead. This is a great way to help fight childhood obesity, too.
  • Around their first birthday, teach your child how to drink from an open cup.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends scheduling your child’s first visit to the dentist once their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday.

Tooth Care for Tots, Teens, and Everyone in Between

Child Brushing His Teeth

Once their adult teeth start coming in, children should start caring for their teeth like adults, too. Establishing a routine will make it easier for them to remember and learn lifelong healthy habits.

  • Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste

The National Institute of Health recommends using toothpaste with fluoride for best results. Studies have shown that fluoride toothpaste is 33% more effective at preventing tooth decay. Dentists recommend brushing for a full two minutes, alternating between different areas of the mouth. It’s important to supervise your child’s brushing habits until they are old enough to brush on their own.

  • Be Consistent

Children should brush their teeth after every meal to remove potentially harmful bacteria. At a minimum, kids should brush in the morning before school and at night before bedtime.

  • Floss

While brushing will help get rid of food buildup on the surface of their teeth, be sure to have you children floss in the evening as well. Flossing will clean the hard-to-reach areas between teeth and at the start of the gum line, removing plaque before it becomes harmful. Flossing is recommended for everybody from young children to teenagers.

  • Visit the Dentist

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, most children need two scheduled checkups per year to maintain a healthy smile. Can’t remember the last time your child visited the dentist? It may be time to pick up the phone.

  • Avoid Whitening Toothpaste

A shiny, white set of teeth may sound ideal, but don’t risk your child’s health trying to get them. Many active whitening toothpastes contain harmful chemicals that can wear down enamel (your teeth’s protective outer layer). Be sure to stick with regular, fluoride toothpaste instead.

  • Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

If your child begins to experience any unusual pain, such as a toothache, seek professional help as soon as possible. Strong discomfort can often signal an infection which may spread to the jaw, neck, or head.

Don’t Forget to Smile!

Little Girl Smilling

By following these steps, you can rest easy knowing your child’s smile is happy and healthy. If you’re not sure of the last time you or your children went to the dentist, schedule an appointment at AltaMed. Our dental offices are conveniently located inside the same locations that provides medical care, women’s health services, and all the other care you and your family need to grow healthy. Find one today.

kid taking candy from a jar

Childhood Obesity: Fight the Growing Problem

Obesity is a growing problem that affects a child’s physical, social, and emotional well-being. While weight isn’t the only measure of health, obesity is defined as having a weight-to-height ratio that is much greater than other kids of the same age and gender. At almost 26% and 22%, the obesity rate among Latino and African American children aged 2-19 is above the national average in the United States. We’ve got to work together, as families and communities, to help our children grow healthy.

A Healthy Lifestyle Starts Early

Little Girl Drinking Water

Our children’s weights are usually determined by a little bit of nature, a little bit of nurture: genetics play a big role but so do healthy eating and activity habits (or lack of them).

As a parent, there’s a lot you can do to help your child maintain a healthy weight:

  • Don’t offer food as a reward or comfort, or punish by restricting access to a preferred food.
  • Serve balanced meals that are high in nutrients but lower in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.
  • Avoid the temptation of the fast food drive-thru.
  • Limit empty-calorie drinks like sugary sodas, sports drinks, and juices.
  • Add colorful fruits and vegetables to every meal.
  • Find fun ways to help your child get at least an hour of physical activity most days of the week.
  • Better yet, take advantage of the So Cal sunshine and get the whole family outside for playtime.
  • Limit screen time (television, social media, games).

In Some Cases, Obesity Can Be Caused by Health Conditions

Overweight Person Over a Scale

Sometimes, weight gain or obesity can be caused by a disease or even a medication. Some disorders, such as hypothyroidism, affect the metabolism (how your body changes food and oxygen into energy), which can lead to extra weight. Medications can also be a factor: for example, the steroids that are commonly given with allergy shots can increase the appetite and cause weight gain. If you believe any of these things are affecting your child’s weight, talk to your pediatrician. If you don’t have one, we can help you find a good one!

Health Conditions Caused by Obesity

Obesity affects a child’s physical, social, and emotional health. It is a chronic disease that can cause or worsen other chronic diseases, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Social isolation
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Low self-esteem
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone and joint problems

Let’s Make a Difference Together!

Overweight Kid

Your child depends on you to help them live a healthy life. Empower your child to make good choices about food and physical activity: better yet, set a good example for them!

If your child is overweight, take it seriously but don’t get down about it. Be patient and persistent, while also understanding healthy weight loss takes time. Instead of placing your child on a restrictive diet, try to teach them healthy habits about eating that will stick with them through life.

The fight to end childhood obesity starts at home and in your community

Daughter And Father Playing Hula Hoop

Need some support? We are here to help you with our Solutions and Treatment in Obesity Management and Prevention (STOMP) program. This year-long pediatric weight-control program helps you and your family live a healthy lifestyle by offering nutrition and fitness education, motivational messages, medical care, and personal consultations. It’s a supportive, fun environment, and depending on insurance and eligibility, you and your family may qualify for free.

Call one of our participating STOMP locations to find out more today:

AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Anaheim, Lincoln (714) 678-2134
AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Boyle Heights (323) 307-0402

AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - El Monte (626) 453-8466

AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Huntington Beach (888) 499-9303

AltaMed Medical Group - Santa Ana, Broadway (714) 919-0280

5 Ways to Promote a Positive Body Image for Kids