Recently, I saw a 7-year-old patient who weighed more than I do. The family did not understand that their child was overweight. They all ate potato chips during our visit at 10 a.m.
I am certain that this patient will be a 300 lb adult with hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and early coronary artery disease, who will be hospitalized numerous times as an adult and be an over-consumer of health care.
By 7 years old, this child’s path has nearly been set. This patient has developed all the wrong eating patterns, is eating the wrong foods, and is drinking the wrong beverages. Food has a different meaning for this child than it does for other children. She has the wrong priority for exercise, the wrong life balance.
Yes, I have failed this child, despite numerous attempts. The time to intervene is as eating starts, right at the initiation of solids, right when families are using food as a reward, right when children will eat whatever parents will give them. Right then is the time to get it right.
Looking for ways to teach your kids about healthy eating? Here are some kid-friendly recipes from our new ChowKids Cookbook from chef Brenda Langton of Spoonriver. How have you taught your kids about eating right? Be one of the first three readers to share your idea or kid-friendly recipe below, and we’ll send you your very own copy of the ChowKids Cookbook! (Update: We loved the responses we got, and we have a few more cookbooks to give away. Share your recipes/ideas and you could win one!)
Gigi Chawla, MD, is the Chief of Staff at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Read more about her here.