Keep kids healthy

Childhood obesity is a problem in Butte County, and the Public Health Department recently began efforts to raise awareness and combat the issue on a local level. According to Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance data, more than 13 percent of Caucasian children ages 12-23 months living in Butte County are obese, and nearly 19 percent of Hispanic kids of the same age qualify as obese. A person is considered “obese” when he or she has a body-mass index (BMI) in the 95th percentile or above.

In a recent press release, county Health Officer Dr. Mark Lundberg called the statistics “startling,” and noted that overweight and obese children are at an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese adults. The risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, a stroke, cancer and high blood pressure is also increased in overweight and obese people.

Lundberg encouraged parents to add physical activity to daily routines, including brisk walking, playing “tag,” jumping rope, soccer, swimming, dance and other physical activities that double as recreation. The public-health department also offered a few tips for parents on how to encourage healthful eating in the home, including:

• Stock the kitchen with fruits, veggies and whole-grain products

• Buy low-fat or non-fat dairy products

• Choose lean meat, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein

• Pay attention to kids’ portion sizes

• Encourage kids to drink water and limit sugary drinks

• Limit foods high in sugar and saturated fat