Children’s health

by Katie Zinkgraf
Ramstein Health and Wellness Center volunteer

***image1***Parents concerned about their children’s eating habits and weight can make a new year’s resolution with a new program at Ramstein Health and Wellness Center, called Let’s Eat Smart Then Exercise Right.

Any family with a child between the ages of 6 and 11 can participate in LESTER.
 “The LESTER program emphasizes family involvement, self-esteem building and fun activities for everyone,” said Col. Angela Thompson, 435th Medical Group commander and pediatric nurse practitioner. “Through recognition of healthy food choices and beneficial physical activities, they will explore and plan activities together − sharing information on a level that is understandable for the children − and that can be incorporated by the busy family that is always on the go.”

 Over the past three decades, children’s health concerns have shifted from nutrient deficiencies and high infant mortality rates to childhood obesity. According to the book, “Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food,” by Michelle McGuire and Kathy A. Beerman, it is estimated that 15 percent of children (6 to 11 years old) are at risk for being overweight and another 15 percent are overweight.
As reported by the American Diabetes Association, 8 to 45 percent of children with newly diagnosed diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Children who are overweight are more likely to be overweight as adults than children who are a healthy weight.

Childhood obesity increases the chance of developing chronic health problems in adulthood, such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.
Behavioral and healthy eating habits are critically important for growing children.

The food choices children are making have not been coinciding with the food guide pyramid. For children 2 to 9 years old, 63 percent are not consuming the recommended number of servings of fruits, and 78 percent are not consuming the recommended number of servings of vegetables according to Only 12.7 percent of the children are consuming an average of two or more servings of whole grains daily.

Children are simply not eating enough fruits, vegetables or whole grain foods. Of great concern are children eating energy-dense snacks while watching TV. With the advent of video games and the increase in hours of watching TV, children are becoming predominately physically inactive. Exercise and healthful food choices at home are critically vital to your child’s health and wellness.

Participating in LESTER includes two individual sessions with a registered dietitian, six weeks of group sessions, one LESTER parent manual, one LESTER child’s notebook, monthly newsletters (for 12 months) and two follow-up visits (at 6 months and 12 months). Call the Ramstein HAWC at 06371-474292 or (480-HAWC) to begin the enrollment process.