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Healthy Food, Healthy Kids: October 31, 2011

“I have Piper, she’s 3 months. Kylie is almost 3 years old.”

Mom Katie Gorski is meal planner-in-chief for her family. Given the many choices, she prioritizes good nutrition

“I think it’s really important. It can help with their development and their growth and its better to give them healthy foods and help fight obesity,” says Katie.

In the past 30 years childhood obesity rates have tripled. When it comes to younger children their parents are often helping them pack on the pounds.

“Especially when you’re dealing with young children you can’t say it’s their fault,” says Dr. Nancy Witham, a pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Dr. Nancy Witham is a pediatrician who sees the downside of overeating. Children’s health issues are now mirroring the adult population.

“High cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, joint related problems from carrying excess weight on growing joints,” says Dr. Witham.

Educating parents is the best way to turn the trend.

“There’s a variety of things that are optional, healthy snacks, fruits are good choices, vegetables the celery sticks, pieces of broccoli. These things can be introduced fairly early. We really want people to stay away from concentrated sweets as their snack choices,” says Dr. Witham.

As the family food czar, Katie takes time to read labels.

“I always try to look for less sugar, organic when you can, but sugar is definitely what I look for most.”

Parents taking an active role is the best insurance against overweight kids.

“It’s all about choices and making appropriate choices. Looking at portion sizes, understanding that when your child says I’m hungry they might mean I’m bored,” says Dr. Witham.