Combatting childhood obesity in South Florida

Parents are driving force in fight

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Childhood obesity is a topic that can be uncomfortable but necessary to tackle for doctors in South Florida.

Just ask Dr. Sarah Hart-Unger, a pediatrician at Joe Dimagio Children's Hospital in Hollywood.

"It can be a really sensitive subject to broach with kids, but it becomes real when there are health issues associated with it,” said Hart-Unger.

High cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes are just a few of the problems childhood obesity can cause.  Dr. Hart-Unger treats the problem in her patients almost every day.

"Per week, at least 20 kids that have some of the health outcomes that we're dealing with could be minimized or taken away completely with improvements in lifestyle that include eating and moving more," said  Dr. Hart-Unger.

The American Heart Association, along with Dr. Hart-Unger, say small steps can equal big success when it comes to keeping your young ones fit and healthy.

* Create a healthy environment by walking for 15 minutes a day and work up the ladder.

* Time playing outside can equal time earned for video games or television.

It worked for the family of NewsChannel 5 anchor Mike Trim. He started running with his 10-year-old son by starting with a half-mile every two days.

Two months later, Trim’s son finished his first 5K race.

Dr. Hart-Unger says parents are the driving force for healthy eating habits.

"Your child may not want to eat everything served at the grown-up table, but I think it's better to always be offering.  Make sure there is something for them to eat and not cater to what they want every day," said  Dr. Hart-Unger.

The American Heart Association has healthy recipes available for children on its website.

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