At Texas Foot Specialists, we treat podiatric conditions every day that are caused or made more severe by a patient being overweight. Obesity increases your chances of having arthritis and other joint issues, heel pain, flat feet and many other foot problems. It also leads to an increased risk for many systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which also negatively impact your feet.
Obese children often grow into obese adults. Good habits need to start in childhood. In recognition of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we’d like to offer this multi-prong approach to fighting this dangerous epidemic:
Change Your Plate—the first place to start in the battle against obesity is with the food your child eats. Increasing nutritious, low calorie, low-fat foods and decreasing unhealthy food choices is the goal. There are many ways to go about it and it’s best to start with small changes rather than a complete diet overhaul. Consider the following:
Swap low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products for full-fat ones.
Get rid of high calorie, sugary fruit juice drinks, sodas and sports drinks. Encourage your child to drink water instead.
Reserve high-calorie desserts for special occasions only.
Add more vegetables to your daily menus. Use them in snacks, as side dishes and in soups and main courses.
Get a Move On—burning more calories as you reduce the amount you take in delivers a double whammy to weight gain. Before starting any new fitness routine, let our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller, examine your child’s feet and ankles. This is especially important if they have had a foot injury in the past. The foot doctor can also make recommendations about shoe styles that will accommodate any issues your child may have, such as overpronation or weak ankles.
Choose activities that you can enjoy as a family such as biking, skiing, swimming and hiking. Your child should have 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Allow time in their schedules for free play. Running around outside, playing tag, and even raking leaf piles all contribute to a more active lifestyle.
Develop Healthy Life Habits—in order to be long-lasting, diet and exercise have to take place in the context of a healthy lifestyle. Limit your child’s phone and other screen time, reduce portion sizes and encourage more conversation at the table to slow the speed that everyone eats (this will allow your brain to let your stomach know that you’re full).
Together, parents and practitioners can help reduce obesity in our children. If you have other questions about the proper care of your child’s feet, contact our Pasadena (281) 991-0600, Sugar Land (281) 242-4448 or Houston (713) 664-6677 office.