Optimal nutrition and regular exercise serve as powerful indicators of health in childhood and adolescence. Conversely, the long-term impact of poor nutrition and physical inactivity during the growing years are harbingers of lifelong healthcare concerns.
We can’t be naive to the reality that more needs to be done to boost nutritional and physical health in kids. Just as parents teach kids the skills for reading and writing, they must teach them the skills for healthy eating and the importance of physical activity.
But parents face an uphill battle to promote good nutrition and fitness in their kids.
For example, processed foods with added sugar seem to be everywhere, kids are in front of their screens for hours each day and, since the pandemic began, options for physical activity have been more limited.
What can parents do to boost nutritional health and physical activity in children?
In episode 23, host Mark Gomez, MD, and his guests, pediatricians Joseph Russell, DO, and Victoria Uribe, MD, have a conversation about the importance of good nutrition and fitness in kids and ways parents can instill habits in their children that will last a lifetime.
Myths vs. Facts
“Children “outgrow” physical inactivity.” – Myth
If you’re not active as a child, it’s hard to change that as an adult. A lot of habits start when you’re young.
“My child takes a daily multivitamin, so they’re getting all the nutrients they need.” – Myth
Some of the foods that we eat have fiber which is critical for our gut bacteria to maintain a healthy immune system.
“Girls and boys who participate in a variety of physical activities early in life tend to be more active later in life.” - Fact
People who are active when they’re younger tend to continue to be active when they’re older.
“If I give my child non-fat food, they won’t become overweight.” – Myth
Sugar intake is the issue. Excess sugar intake eventually becomes stored fat.
“Children are miniature adults.” – Myth
Unlike adults, kids are growing a lot; their bodies are changing. You must look at all of that while planning nutrition and activity.
“If your child has a well-balanced diet, then there is no need for them to change it while they’re training for a sport.” – Both
Certain sports such as long-distance running and competitive swimming may require additional calories in the form of carbohydrates, but the average child involved in sports doesn’t need to change a well-balanced diet.
“Fundamental movement skills are innate.” – Fact
Kids naturally can be active. The basics of walking, running and playing are fundamental.
“I can’t control what my teenager eats; they’re old enough to decide that for themselves.” – Myth
Unfortunately, teenagers’ frontal lobes haven’t fully developed so they still need guidance and assistance.
“Resistance training is unsafe for children.” – Myth
Kids can do resistance training, just decide what and how much to do based on their age and size.
“It is best to expose young girls and boys to skill-building games and exercise programs early in life.” – Myth
When they’re young, letting them do regular stuff like pickup games and playing with siblings are the most important things. Let kids be kids.
“Young athletes should specialize.” – Myth
The greater variety of sports that children can do will reduce the likelihood of an injury.
Listener healthy OH-YEAH!
“I walked 19 holes of miniature golf with my granddaughter. Awesome day!” – T.T.