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Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Hard Time of Year to Keep Kids Healthy

Nov. 6, 2013

The end of the year is drawing near. That means it's getting colder outside which may limit some people's exercise routine.
Also, the holidays will soon be here and that can often encourage eating for many folks.

With childhood obesity rates climbing, doctors say there are a few things you can do around this time of the year to keep your child healthy.

The most recent data released from the Centers for Disease Control shows that childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States. 17 percent of children and teens ages 2 to 19 are obese.

"Since the 70's and 80's, it's been on the rise. The good news is it's flattened out a little bit. It's not going up as high. What's happened is kids who are obese used to be 1 in 20. Now1 if 5 children are obese," said Dr. Bryce Kellams, Family Physician, Forest Lakes Family Medicine.

With chillier temperatures limiting outdoor activity and holiday gatherings full of food just weeks away, Dr. Bryce Kellams says there are things parents can do to make sure their kids are staying active and eating right.

"I think parents can do a lot of things. In order to teach good health behavior, it's just like teaching good behavior which is basically setting some rules, following the limits and them living up to them themselves," said Dr. Kellams.

Dr. Kellams recommends something called the "5-2-1-0 Program." He says kids should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. They should limit screen time to 2 hours a day. That means cutting back on watching TV, playing video games and using computers or tablets. Children should also spend 1 hour a day exercising. His last suggestion is for kids to drink zero sugary drinks a day.

"The holidays bring up a lot of concerns. Every parent wants their child to be healthy," said Dr. Kellams.

Dr. Kellams says if parents and children follow these simple guidelines, they'll reduce the risk of becoming obese or overweight.

Dr. Kellams adds that it's important to keep an eye on your child's weight and eating habits because being obese can lead to medical problems like diabetes, liver disease, heart disease and high blood pressure.

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