Yesterday, Coachella Unincorporated reporter Karla Martinez shared her little sister’s fitness journey following her obesity diagnosis. Kenia, 11, has already lost 20 pounds.
Dr. Christopher Flores, a local family practice doctor, recently took the time to answer her questions about how we can help kids like Kenia improve their health.
How can we encourage kids to get fit without hurting their feelings?
Separate the problem from the person. In our culture we tend to “blame the victim” and focus on individual and personal responsibilities (don’t eat junk, exercise more, etc.) as opposed to dealing with institutional, socioeconomic, and environmental factors that contribute to obesity. Get kids into healthy eating by doing fun activities – going to farmer’s market, healthy cooking classes, cooking together and making a healthy salad or fruit plate from scratch. Make exercise fun by playing sports, going on hikes, riding bicycles, etc.
When you talk to kids and young people, describe the problem of obesity as a society and community problem, which it is. Although of course we have to focus on how many calories the individual takes in, and how many calories an individual burns off through exercise, it really helps to talk about the larger forces that contribute to obesity. There are institutional (lack of healthy foods available at school, soft drinks and sugary beverages available more than water, etc.), socioeconomic (maybe some families don’t have easy transportation and the only stores close by sell high calorie/nutrient poor food, or maybe the neighborhood is not that safe to exercise in, so it is safer to stay indoors and watch TV or play on computer or smart phone), and environmental factors (lack of accessible sports or recreation activities, lack of public transportation to get to supermarket or farmer’s market, lots of marketing and advertising for fast food, soda pop, junk food and snacks, etc.).
Read more at Coachella Unincorporated