childeatingburgerIt’s no surprise that childhood obesity is a huge issue in the United States. Children are given more sugar and fat than ever before in the form of sugary juice drinks and cheap fast-food meals. We have lost sight of preparing fresh meals at home, made from scratch. This idea is the focus of the new book “Step Up Diet” written by Dr. Katalenas. In this interview, Dr. Katalenas remarks on the trends in health care and what you can do to create a healthier environment for your child.

Question: Have you noticed over the years a change in weight in your pediatric patients with obesity on the rise?

Dr. K:  Definitely, the studies do show that. Of course, I don’t do my own studies here in the office but in the 1980’s we had about 5 to 7 percent incidence of obesity. We now have a 20 percent obesity rate, and I can relate to that because I see that in my office.

Question: What can parents do to improve their child’s health?

Dr. K: The best diet applies the principles of quality, quantity and timing. That is exactly what I mention in my book, The Step Up Diet, and I walk parents through the diet step by step. Quality refers to homemade food, made from scratch. Quantity refers to just one serving per meal and the timing is very important. You have to have breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Just four meals a day should be enough.

Question: How active should kids be, and how much exercise should they be getting?

Dr. K: Children should get at least an hour of exercise a day, outside. The best exercise is free play; just going outside and playing with other kids. Kids can participate in organized games as well. I think kids enjoy free play more and it will stimulate their brains more than play where they have to follow rules.

Question: Is it important to start healthy habits when a child is young?

Dr.K: Yes. These are habits for the whole family. We should not separate the meals for the kids and meals for the adults. That is the problem we have had for so many years. It is difficult for young families to go back and change their bad eating habits. Some of my patients tell me that they don’t know how to cook. That is the reason I put my book together; to help families beyond the thirty minutes I spend with them in the office.

Quality, Quantity and Timing are essential elements for your child’s health. By serving quality foods with wholesome ingredients, your child will choose healthy habits later in life. Let your kids be kids! Exercise should be fun, not a chore. Find something your child loves such as swimming or roller skating and encourage them to pursue it instead of staying indoors.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.