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Learning to serve kids a healthier future

By Sabrina Fine | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 17, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —

Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

Childhood obesity in America has tripled since the 1970s and September is dedicated to awareness of the epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about one in five, or 19 percent, of children in the United States are classified as obese, said Emily Newman, 359th Medical Group clinical dietitian.

“The problem, I think, is convenience foods and processed foods, combined with everybody’s busy lifestyle,” said Cynthia Moczygemba, child nutrition director for the Randolph Field Independent School District.

She recommends that if parents are too busy to cook, they can dedicate a day each week to prepare meals in advance and store them in the fridge or freezer.

“I think healthy starts at home,” Moczygemba said. “At school, we serve them fruits, vegetables, proteins and legumes. I feel like you’re going to come to school, see that food and not like it if you’re not familiar with it.”

Parents can help their children develop a healthy relationship with food and weight management while they are young, Newman stated.

 “I think what we are introduced to as babies creates our palette,” Moczygemba said.  “If all you are being given is the convenience foods and not fresh homemade meals you don’t always have the palette for it.”

Obesity is a health threat with many causes: lack of physical activity, genetics, excessive consumption of high calorie foods, sleep routines and social factors.

 “To promote healthy growth and development in children, encourage physical activity … children ages 6-17 should move 60 minutes every day,” Newman said. “Limit recreational screen time to two hours or less daily, increase availability of fruits and vegetables. Offer a variety of foods daily, decrease availability of sugary beverages, drink more water and low-fat milk, and avoid using food as a reward.”

Childhood obesity often transforms into lifelong health problems. Obese children have higher rates of mental health issues, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, they are more likely to develop into obese adults.

“National recognition months, such as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September and National Nutrition Month in March, are important for raising awareness of the role that dietary choices and lifestyle habits have on health at any age,” Newman said.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html