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CDC: 'Alarming' rise in childhood obesity over last 12 months

Local health experts are helping you spruce up those healthy habits at home with the kids after rise in childhood obesity is linked to pandemic.

A new study shows what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling an alarming rise in childhood obesity during the pandemic. 13 is ON YOUR SIDE with ways to spruce up those healthy habits at home with the kids, and a friendly reminder about why maintaining your health is so crucial, now more than ever.

Amanda Eldersveld is a Grand Rapids nutritionist who says as chaotic as our world is right now, people “need that structure to feel like they’re in control of something because we’re not really in control of what’s going on right now and having that control over what you put in your mouth is very satisfying to them.”

She’s working double duty, developing meal plans for her clients of all ages while teaching her own toddler and the one on the way in December about healthy lifestyles.

“I set up a structured meal plan for them and they know exactly what they’re going to be eating all day long. So, that way they’re not running to the pantry to grab a candy bar, or popcorn or chips,” said Eldersveld.

Not all snacking is bad, though. Eldersveld says her two-year-old daughter “absolutely loves those little baby, mini cucumbers and she snacks on those all day. She also likes the little baby tomatoes. Sometimes when I make smoothies for her I add a lot of spinach and kale in there and kind of hide the veggies that she doesn’t really like. So, that way, she has no idea that she’s getting veggies with her fruit smoothie.”

Getting active can simply be having fun at home: going on walks as a family, and coming up with creative games.

“I could not only see the excitement in her face but I could see her imagination growing,” said Eldersveld.

A recent CDC study shows after decades-long increases in childhood obesity rates, there was a “substantial” and “alarming” uptick just over the last 12 months, which is being directly linked to the pandemic.

“Schools closed down, sports closed down, a lot of activities were no longer available to our kids,” said Dr. Adelle Cadieux, a pediatric psychologist with Spectrum Health.

The health care company developed a Healthy Counts chart to give families guidance they can count on.

Credit: Spectrum Health

“We know that when we’re eating healthy, when we’re getting the exercise our body needs, when we’re getting adequate sleep and we’re not spending too much time on our electronics our body, naturally, is going to be healthier and we’re going to have the energy we need to go through the day. We’re also going to be able to manage our stress better to focus, concentrate and just do the activities we need to do each day a little bit better,” said Dr. Cadieux.

As we continue combatting coronavirus, and with flu season on the way, a healthy diet is key. “When you have a diet that is very high in carbohydrates, high in sugar, processed – that can compress your immune system and you don’t want that now,” said Eldersveld. For more tips, you can reach out to this local nutritionist on Facebook.

According to that recent report by the CDC, for children already considered moderately obese, expected weight gain was about six pounds a year, pre-pandemic. Now, that number has doubled.

Kids between the ages of six and 11 saw the most dramatic increases in obesity rates.

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