Is Your Family In Shape? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 10, 2013

Is Your Family in Shape?

Childhood obesity has been a steadily growing epidemic, rising rapidly over the last 30 years.  Thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama’s active leadership in the fight against childhood obesity, more awareness has been brought to what is arguably the largest public health epidemic facing our country’s youth. We try so hard to make sure our kids are mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. While eating healthy foods and teaching them the ways of a balanced diet is a large part of this process, fitness is another vital way to make it happen.

According to the CDC, over a third of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. Weight-related issues affect children today and into adulthood. Obese kids are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and bone and joint problems. Many of these children experience teasing from peers and suffer from social and psychological issues. They are more likely to become overweight adults who develop further medical problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

With video games, smartphones, TV shows and tablet devices, our children are never far from a screen that is sure to grab their attention and keep them immobile. Children who watch more than 2 hours of television are more likely to be obese when they grow up.  So parents should turn off the gadgets and encourage fitness as a fun family activity to keep their children in great shape. Blaze Gusic, M.D., FAAP, medical director of the Crozer Pediatrics practice offers suggestions to get in shape.

1. Get physically active
Your child is always watching you, picking up both your good and bad habits.  Set a positive example by being physically active, and they’ll want to engage in similar behavior. Always remember: active parents = active kids. Don’t drive if you can walk. If you do drive, park at the end of the parking lot and walk.  If you take a bus, get off one or two stops before your destination. Remember, every extra step counts.

2. Be active together and have fun
Put aside an hour each day for physical activity. Encourage your kids to get up and move by promoting fun activities, such as playing tag, bike riding, or kickball with the local neighborhood kids. Find things that they like to do, and do them as a family. Remember, you don’t need to be outdoors to be active. Put on some music and dance in the living room. You may look silly, but you’ll be together, you’ll be active and you’ll have fun. The more fun your child is having, the more he or she is likely to continue doing it.

3. Join a sports team
Sign your kids up for local athletic leagues or dance classes. Kids need to see that physical activity can be even more fun than sitting around the house watching TV or playing video games. And it’s a great way to make new friends.

4. Start Young
To raise a healthy adult, start with a healthy baby.  If you create a home with healthy eating habits and good physical activity, your child will grow up thinking this is normal and will be more likely to continue with a healthy lifestyle. Chose activities that are appropriate for your child’s age and do not overdo it. Exercise is not supposed to hurt and should not interfere with school or other activities, but should be a part of everyday life.

It is never too late to start.  To find out more about healthy living, fitness and eating well, talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

Crozer Pediatrics offers a range of services for the care of newborns, children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 21. The practice’s physicians work closely with families and referring physicians to provide the best possible care for all patients. To schedule an appointment with a pediatric physician, call (610) 619-7410. Learn more at (click on the “Pediatrics” link under “Services”).

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