“It starts with a delicious meal then leads to dessert, which then becomes a daily habit; eventually leading to what is now a persistent disease, obesity. Monkey see, Monkey Do! Children often imitate what their parents do! That is why it is important to start proper nutrition habits early. Obesity is when a person weighs more than what is normal for his or her age, sex, and height. Latinos and their children have been particularly affected by the growing prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Obesity can be due to an uncontrolled portion of eating with no exercise. Poor nutrition, unbalanced diet, lack of exercise are some of the issues parents are less educated with, putting their children at risk of obesity or being overweight. Genetics does play part in obesity; children of obese or overweight parents are at greater risk of becoming obese or overweight. Mexican-American children are more likely to be overweight than children of different races, therefore making Hispanic children the greater portion of obese or overweight children in US. Obesity isn’t only a chronic disease but may lead to other health problems in Hispanics such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleeping problems and even high cholesterol. For children it may lead to depression and self-esteem problems making them not want to do anything to help lower their weight.

As a doctor I always encourage that you limit your child’s food intake and proportion a well balanced meal as well as ensure your child in getting physical activity. Limiting soda, sweetened drinks, juice and greasy foods helps. Portioning food into three meals, include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats and high fiber foods play a big role in a healthy nutritional diet. Limiting behavior habits such as television or video games during or after meals which may promote to more physical activity. Parent’s play a big role in their child’s development not only mentally but physically, so it is important that you encourage physical activity and health meals within your family.

Here at Roya Family Medical Center, I strongly encourage all parents the importance of making annual wellness visits for their children to maintain nutrition and weight because this will affect their growth and development and help prevent any health complications. Parents have the power to control their child’s habits but if not monitored carefully may lead to the difficult struggle not only for themselves but for their child to lose weight. Remember to reduce temptation: buy less sweets and less junk food for your family and check out activities at school, park or activity center near you. Take charge in your family’s routines and be role models! Show your children a healthy way to live!”

Michelle J. Alexandre, MD

Read Information from Your Family Doctor: “Tips on Keeping Weight Off and Successful Weight Loss Maintenance