Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Physician Talks about Childhood Obesity
One in three children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC) encourages your family to make healthy changes together.
“Children with obesity are more likely to be obese as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems, including diabetes and even an increased risk of certain types of cancer,” Pediatrician Dr. Aaron Grigg said.
“Childhood obesity is a topic that comes up in our valley often,” Dr. Grigg added.
Dr. Grigg, a pediatrician at YVFWC’s Toppenish Medical-Dental Clinic, says childhood obesity is influenced by many factors. For some children and families, factors include too much time spent in sedentary activities such as screen time; a lack of bedtime routine leading to too little sleep; a lack of community recreational space for adequate physical activity; easy access to inexpensive, high-calorie snacks and beverages; and/or a lack of access to affordable, healthier foods.
In addition to offering behavioral health consultants and registered dietitians as part of a child’s well-child visit, parents are also guided on ways they can help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in their children. Parents are encouraged to:
- Be active outside: walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park.
- Limit screen time: keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.
- For teens, try to spend at least the same amount of time in active play as you spend with screen time
- Make healthy meals: buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.
“To help ensure that children have a healthy weight, balancing their food intake and activity level is important,” Dr. Grigg added. “There are also medical and hereditary reasons for weight gain, and a visit to your child’s medical provider can be an important step in evaluating their health.”
In an effort to help children maintain a healthy level of energy, parents should ensure their children are getting enough sleep, limiting daily screen time, taking part in regular physical activity, and eating the right amount of calories. YVFWC registered dietitians recommend replacing high-calorie sugars and solid fats with higher nutrient, lower calorie foods such as fruit and vegetables. Water is the best no-calorie alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight,” Dr. Grigg said. “We usually think it will require huge changes in our lifestyle, but it is the small changes over time that have the biggest impact.”
About Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic: The Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides comprehensive medical, dental, and social services for more than 141,000 people throughout the Pacific Northwest. Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic employs 1,390 full-time staff and more than 600 part-time staff, medical residents, dental residents, students and volunteers. Facilities: 19 medical clinics, 10 dental clinics, 57 programs. Locations: Washington State clinics are located in Grandview, Prosser, Pasco, Spokane, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Yakima, Walla Walla and Wapato. In Oregon, clinics are located in Hermiston, Portland, Salem and Woodburn. Visit: www.yvfwc.com