Children of all ages are heavier than our instinct says is healthy. We immediately think that they need to lose weight. However, weight loss with children can be very tricky. Our children today were born into the electronic age where they spend many hours playing video games and corresponding with friends on the computer. Unfortunately, these activities do not have much of a physical exercise component. Exercise is not high on the list of activities for after school hours. While children are in the house after school, they can also be found in the kitchen looking for snacks. The combination of no exercise and snacking on prepackaged food is simply unhealthy for growing children.
Snack food and prepackaged foods have high sodium levels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day and no more than 1500 mg’s for people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. It’s not uncommon for children in America to be consuming 3000 mg or more of salt a day, most of which comes from processed foods. Reducing the intake of salt, saturated fat and cholesterol will help children have a healthy weight. Without nutritional awareness, it is very easy for children to become over weight which can serve as the pre-cursor to heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses later in life. Having children learn the nutritional facts of their eating habits can help them make more informed food choices.
Massachusetts schools have been concerned about children since the early 50’s and have been taking height and weight measurements to determine BMI and observe trends. Over the past decades, more and more children have been diagnosed as being overweight or obese. Schools in Massachusetts are now required to collect height / weight data in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10 to determine their BMI and notify parents of any unhealthy conditions. Screening results are sent home with the recommendation that parents share the results with their child’s primary care provider. Often times the primary caregiver will refer the child to a nutritionist. The ability of the primary care provider to spend the necessary time with the child and guardian to effect behavioral changes does not always fit into their schedule. Successful treatment usually requires weekly visits with professionals.
The New Horizon Medical model is just the vehicle needed to compliment the primary care provider’s efforts. New Horizon’s model does not intend to replace primary care providers, but rather compliment them as a partner with a common goal of improving children’s health. New Horizon brings about positive change in a child’s health from a collaborative effort on the part of counselors, nutritionists and personal trainers all at a single location. Weekly meetings with the child help reinforce the progress being made toward a defined health goal. New Horizon’s goal is to help the child adopt new lifestyle habits so that when the child returns for their annual physical, improved health will be noted.
As BMI screening gets underway this spring, be thankful that a school nurse reaches out to you about your child’s elevated BMI. It is better to know now and take action for the sake of your child’s long term health. Know that New Horizon is a wonderful place with a tailored program to help you with the right treatment for your child. New Horizon has a unique staff that connects with children and gets results. We empower children to be their best advocate for their own health one patient at a time.