Did you know? 1 in 3 of our preschoolers are overweight/obese. Here's how you can help.
1. Rethink the drink. Are you concerned about a child whose weight may be unhealthy? First, ask permission ("is it ok to talk a little about your child's health?"). If a family is under a lot of stress and you can only make one suggestion, make it this: Water, not soda. Even if a child can just cut back on soda consumption rather than stopping completely, it will make a difference. A typical 20 ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. Contact the Health Promotion Division, SLO County Public Health, at 781-5564 for free Rethink Your Drink materials for educators and presentations for parents.
2. Give simple, realistic advice. Parents can help their children by working on these five family behaviors:
Get up and play actively at least one hour a day.
Cut back on screen time to under 2 hours per day (no screen time for children under two).
Eat at least 5 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day (frozen and canned are fine, no sugar added).
Eat a healthy breakfast daily.
Eat less fast food - cut back on the number of meals each week and/or the portion size.
3. Use gentle wording. Be mindful that words like overweight and fat are difficult for parents and children to hear. Stick with words that focus on health, not appearance, and are appropriate to children:
Instead of: "Overweight," "fat," "chubby," "heavy," "obese" "Ideal weight," "normal" "Diet" or "bad food" "Exercise" Talking about focusing on weight Talking about fixing the child
Replace with: "Unhealthy weight"
"Healthy weight" "Healthier food choices" "Activity" or "play" Talking about focusing on lifestyle. Talking about changing family behaviors.
Family Resource Centers can help with non-medical needs too, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
CHDP, the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program, provides free well-child check-ups with referrals to any treatment needed. Children are enrolled at the doctor's office in Gateway Medi-Cal, a temporary Medi-Cal insurance lasting until the end of the month following the application. Only two CHDP Gateway enrollments will be permitted within a 12 month period. If a child does not qualify for Medi-Cal due to income or lack of documented status, they will be turned down for Medi-Cal but will still receive the well-child check-up at no cost. If follow-up appointments are needed and are completed while still on Gateway Medi-Cal, they will also not be charged to the family even if the child is then denied Medi-Cal. Undocumented children who have applied in the past for Gateway Medi-Cal and been denied will be denied quickly after the first time and will not have time for follow-up appointments. Note that there is no sharing of information about immigration status.