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Bay Wellness - Making Weight Loss a Family Affair

Bay Wellness - Making Weight Loss a Family Affair

Obesity treatment – and prevention – begins at home. Here’s how to make weight loss a family affair.

An alarming statistic that one third of U.S. adults meet the criteria for obesity has created a call for more family  medicine physicians to identify and intervene in patient obesity during childhood, when some long-term health effects  can be prevented or at least minimized.

Obesity treatment – and prevention – begins at home. Here’s how to make weight loss a family affair.

“The thing to remember is that obesity can be reversed,” says family medicine physician Jennifer Turkish, M.D. “The  earlier the intervention occurs the more potential there is to change contributing lifestyle and eating factors,” says Dr.  Turkish. Early intervention is especially important because it is now known that childhood and adolescent metabolic  syndrome, in which hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, and high cholesterol occur concomitantly, can lead to  premature atherosclerosis and significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk early in life.

As physicians in many specialties have learned, “scare tactics” are ineffective when talking to adult obese patients  about obesity’s health effects — cardiovascular disease and diabetes in particular — before those effects compromise  patients’ lives. With adolescents, scare tactics are even less effective because most children don’t think about the long- term effects of any issue, especially health related ones.

It may be more instructive to have the child (in concert with parents, if appropriate) identify concrete issues he or she  faces because of obesity, whether it’s social ostracization by peers or the sheer physical discomfort of being  overweight, and craft a “treatment plan” accordingly. Unhealthy behaviors may be contagious, but so are healthy ones.

Sometimes it’s difficult to be healthy, and we may start adopting behaviors that really don’t work well.”There are some  things we can do consciously and even small changes can make a long-term difference in weight,” says Dr. Turkish.

To curb the childhood-obesity epidemic, health experts have long urged parents to make healthy changes to their  family’s lifestyle — such as eating nutritiously, reducing TV time, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.

Obesity experts stress that the key is to start somewhere, and these routines are as good a place as any. “We don’t have  to be running marathons every day,” says Dr. Turkish. “Even moderate improvements can translate into a marked effect  on body weight.” And when it comes to Wcontrolling weight, especially in youngsters, every pound counts.”

7 Super Ways to Countdown to Health

1) Don’t diet.
Focus on encouraging diet changes that result in healthier meals.

2) Plan family events that include being outdoors and are based around movement.

3) Encourage kids to make a list of healthy choices for foods and activities.

4) Join the local Community Y on the family plan.
There’s day care plus activities for kids and adults of all ages.

5) Try to have dinner together at least a few nights each week.
Skipping meals results in more high-calorie snacking. Make dinner together so kids get a sense of what healthy meal  planning entails.

6) Stock your home with fresh fruits and vegetables to help eliminate fats and carbs from the diet.

7) Avoid diet soda and soda, and limit salt intake.
Drink water. Soda contains empty calories. For variety, sip natural, reduced sugar juices with added nutrients. Excessive  salt has been linked to high blood pressure which, in turn, can lead to heart attack, stroke and many other diseases.

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