Summer, the SMArt Kids way
| Posted On Jul 24, 2015 | By: Dr. Brittanny Boulanger
You may have heard about or even read the recent (published June 29, 2015) American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) updated recommendations regarding pediatric obesity prevention. It affirms the message we have been consistently teaching at our SMArt Kids Shared Medical Appointments over the last four years – that children and families should embrace healthy habits each and every day, including eating a well-balanced diet, increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors.
The recommendation goes on to explicitly state that pediatricians should echo this message and help families find ways to adopt these healthy behaviors. This support should begin in infancy and continue through young adulthood. We’ve understood that families need help, and our SMArt Kids’ program is here to support them as they work to be healthier.
An excerpt from the AAP release summarizes this well:
“Even when families have knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to motivate them to implement behavior changes,” said Stephen Daniels, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “Parents and other family members are strongly encouraged to adopt the same fitness and lifestyle changes as the child. Pediatricians can educate families, provide support, and help them stay on track.”
The following points, also taken directly from the AAP report, are supported by currently available evidence and are simple changes that families can implement now that can make a big difference:
- There is no evidence for health benefits and some evidence for negative health effects of sweetened beverages (sodas, iced teas, sports drinks, juice drinks). Therefore, health-promotion efforts should aim at removing all sweetened beverages from the diets of children. The ideal beverage for children at all meals and during the day is water. Low-fat or fat-free, preferably unflavored, milk also has an important place in the diet of children beginning at 12 months of age. One hundred percent fruit juice should not be used before 1 year of age and should be limited thereafter. Fruits should be encouraged over fruit juice.
- Promotion of a diet rich in foods with low caloric density (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, lean fishes, legumes) and poor in foods with high caloric density (fat-rich meats, fried foods, baked goods, sweets, cheeses, oil-based sauces) will likely contribute to the prevention of obesity.
- All forms of sedentary entertainment, including television and newer forms of electronic entertainment or communication, should be excluded for infants and children up to 2 years of age and limited to 2 hours per day for children 2 years and older.
- Promotion of active play and lifestyle and family- or sports-based moderate to vigorous physical activity for a total of 60 minutes/day is likely to contribute to the prevention of obesity and has multiple additional health benefits.
- Prevention of childhood obesity should start before 2 years of age by promoting healthy maternal weight beginning in the prenatal period, smoking cessation before pregnancy, appropriate gestational weight gain and diet, breastfeeding and appropriate weight gain in infancy, transition to healthier foods with weaning, elimination of sedentary entertainment, active play for physical activity, and parental role modeling of healthy dietary and physical activity behaviors. “
This summer, while away on a family vacation or at the neighborhood cookout, I recommend that the SMArt Kids and their families remember our basic goals:
- Five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (try berries on your waffle for breakfast)
- Less than two hours of screen time (get the kids in the neighborhood to play capture the flag)
- One hour of active play per day (No excuses, get outside – summer is here!)
- Less than 4 ounces of sugared beverages per day (skip the sports drinks – most kids only need water for their athletic practices and games)
- Fast food less than once per week (Ask mom or dad to grill tonight)
- Get enough sleep! 10 hours is the goal. (No school means you can sleep in!)
In addition, keep portion sizes and food types in check this summer by referring to the MyPlate.gov plate. Need seconds? Fill up the fruit and vegetable half of your plate instead of the other areas.
We look forward to seeing the SMArt kids in September, as they are always engaged, energized and enthusiastic – attributes that will enable them to work on our goals and return in the fall with more confidence and momentum. Thank you again – you inspire us all.
A big thank you as well to our SMArt Kids’ team. Thank you Diane Gaudette, Deb LeMaitre, Kristen Beninati, Chip Wilder and Linda Germaine-Miller. Have a safe and healthy summer! Keep up the SMArt work!
If you are interested in attending a SMArt Kids shared medical appointment (SMA), we would love it if you could join us. We meet once per month at the Harvard Vanguard Burlington Department of Pediatrics. Children ages 8-12 years are welcome to attend with a parent. Please call us at 781-221-2800 for more information or to enroll.
Resources for families: