One out of five kids in the United States are now considered obese, which is double the amount that were obese just a generation ago. Childhood obesity is on the rise and an innovative program, launched by the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Columbus Children’s Hospital, will combat against this alarming problem starting at the very beginning – birth.
Robert Murray, MD, director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Children’s Hospital, and his team of specialists, developed An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound – a program that calls for parents to establish better eating habits for their children from the moment they are born.
“The critical habits of a lifetime, in terms of eating and activity, are really laid down in the first years of life,” Murray, who is also on the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said. “So, if you are going to win in obesity prevention, you need to be there first.”
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound is first being tested by pediatricians across Ohio, though Murray is hopeful it will someday be implemented coast to coast. The idea is to get pediatricians to talk to and train parents how and what to feed their baby starting with their first well child visit through the next 11 visits. Murray says by addressing the issue of what kids eat, it can have a dramatic impact on how they develop.
“The biggest mistake parents can make is feeding kids too much and too often,” Murray said. “Another is not counting the calories that can be found in things like snacks and fruit drinks that are not 100 percent fruit juice.”
Under the guidelines in An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound, some of the nutritional and physical activity suggestions pediatricians can discuss with parents at their child’s visit and take-home pointers for parents include portion sizes, importance of milk, when to snack, when to eat out, problem of “dessert,” planned meal times, structured and unstructured play, television limits, etc.
Pam Barber / Mary Ellen Fiorino
Columbus Children's Hospital Marketing and Public Relations