Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Childhood Obesity Dilemma--How Something So Simple Got So Complicated
Richard Besser MD Good Morning America

What Dr Besser described is exactly what my conversations with the parents of overweight kids are like as a registered dietitian at a public health clinic. I think parents don't understand how powerful their actions are in establishing healthy habits for their kids. Kids learn from a very early age from what they observe. And if they observe mom and dad with a regular diet of chips, sodas, etc. this becomes the "norm." Parents need to take back the gatekeeper role in the house. Don't want your kid to drink soda-- don't buy it! Want to drink it yourself--do it after they're asleep.

At the same time, I think it's important to teach kids that all foods can fit in moderation. At a birthday party, we might splurge on cake, soda and some pizza, but we don't do it every day. While tempting, establishing a "no sugar in the house" rule often backfires. The kid who is not allowed an occasional sweet with gulp down soda by the glassfulll when at his friend's house. (I've seen that one firsthand!) They won't learn moderation--which after all is the key to a balanced life.

My advice to parents--let your kids catch you "being good"--setting a good example for healthy living. Eat an apple for a snack. Push away from the table and say you're full. Play ball outside or take your kid to the park. Time spent outside is directly related to calories burned, so reserve some outside play time for the family

Monday, February 1, 2010

Does your baby need a vitamin?

Does Your Baby Need a Vitamin? This is a common question among new moms.

The short answer: it depends...

On whether he is breastfed or bottle fed,

If bottle fed, your baby doesn't need an extra vitamins.

If you're breastfeeding, there are a few extra vitamins your baby might need. Does that mean that your breastmilk is insufficient? Not at all. But because your milk changes according to your baby's needs and your diet, there are a few things your baby might need a little extra of.

Vitamin D: the AAP recommends a vitamin D supplement of 200 IU if he is exclusively breastfeeding or drinking less than 17 oz of formula. Why? Research is showing that many of us are vitamin D insufficient--either we don't spend enough time in the sun for our skin to make vitamin D, or when we do, we wear clothes or sunscreen. Many pregnant women are D deficient which means their babies are born in a deficient state too, which can affect bone growth. Vitamin D is available on it's own (D-Visol) or in a mix as multi-vitamin drop.

Vitamin B-12. Your baby only needs this if you are vegan and your diet doesn't contain a reliable source of B12 (from a supplement or fortified foods), you should give your baby a supplement. If you're not sure, it's best to go ahead and give your baby the B12.

If you're breastfeeding, I recommend you continue taking a multivitamin--many women continue with their prenatals. It's especially important to have a source of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid important for brain and eye development) either from cold water fish (salmon twice a week) or a supplement.

For more on this subject, see my article in