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

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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AltaMed Making Healthy Choices When Eating at Restaurants

Making Healthy Choices When Eating at Restaurants

Who said eating out has to be unhealthy? The secret is to be more aware of the food you eat. We have a few ways to help make your dine-out meals enjoyable, healthy, and still delicious!

Drink Water

Woman Drinking Lemonade Glass

Drinking a glass of water instead of a sugary drink before you take a bite into your delicious meal can help you eat less at the dinner table. A glass of water before your meal aids your digestion and helps you feel more full, which can help you eat less. Plus, it saves you a few dollars on your bill while also saving you calories! If you want to add a little flavor to your water, ask for a slice of cucumber or lemon. Lemons add a tangy flavor and are a great source of Vitamin C.

Choose Chicken or Fish

Tuna with Vegetables Dish

Even if you’re going to a fast-food restaurant, you can still make healthier selections. Red meats like hamburger and steak are both high in saturated fats, which may raise the risk of cancer and heart disease. Most restaurants and even hamburgers stands offer chicken and fish options. However, if you have to choose between a bucket of fried chicken and a hamburger, get the burger but hold the fries.

Keep Your Plate Colorful

Veggie Dish

Your plate is your canvas. Spice it up and eat the rainbow! Making sure your plate has more colorful veggies and fruits ensures that you eat the right amount of nutrients. Make it your goal to cover two corners of your plate with fruits and veggies. Try substituting the ‘bad carbs’ found in fries and mashed potatoes with complex carbohydrates, like brown or wild rice, and hearty veggies like broccoli, asparagus, and carrots. If you’re craving a juicy burger, ditch the bun and wrap it in lettuce. Lettuce-wrapping your burgers can shave off extra calories and helps you load up on veggies.

Substitute the Salad Dressing

Salad Bowl

Choosing to eat a salad for lunch or dinner can still be a fun meal. But even a hearty salad can be unhealthy if you choose the wrong dressing or load it with unhealthy toppings like croutons or a lot of cheese. Substitute those toppings with healthy seeds, nuts, or roasted chickpeas, and instead of ranch, blue cheese, or French dressing, try a vinaigrette! The best dressings for your colorful salads are the ones you can see through. Try a balsamic, raspberry, or Italian vinaigrette for a flavorful substitute.

Portion Control

Pasta Dish

It’s not your imagination: restaurants are serving bigger portions. That doesn’t mean you have to eat everything they put in front of you. Two ways to downsize your plate are to order an appetizer or two for your meal, or just eat half of your entrée. If you order appetizers as a main dish, ask for your food to arrive with the rest of the entrees. Also, if you have a big entrée, try sharing it with your friend, or taking half of it home with you for a meal the next day. Who doesn’t love leftovers?

Don’t Go Extra with the Extra

Sauces and Condiments

All that gooey ketchup you’re slathering on your sandwich is a hidden source of sugar and extra calories. Just two tablespoons of ketchup have two teaspoons of sugar – in fact, ounce for ounce, ketchup has more sugar than ice cream. Other condiments that contain extra sugar include:

  • Barbeque sauce
  • Honey mustard sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce

On the salty side, soy sauce, sweet relish, and mustard should also be used in moderation because they’re loaded with sodium.

If you’re looking to add extra flavor without the extra calories, try smarter options like:

  • Mustard
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • Guacamole (in moderation)
  • Lemon juice
Multicultural kids laughing

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:

Childhood Obesity: Fight the Growing Problem