by Mary Ellen Renna, M.D.
There is a silent epidemic spreading throughout America. It is insidious and ravaging, and its victims are our children. What is it? Obesity in children has emerged as a serious threat to our nation's health. Take this quiz to find out if your child is at risk.
1. How often does your family eat out -- including meals at fast food restaurants?
a. 5 to 7 days a week.
b. 3 to 5 times a week.
c. 1 or 2 times a week.
d. Our family never eats out.
2. During sports (or other activities), what do you give your child to keep them hydrated?
b. Sports Drinks
3. What is a typical after school snack for your child?
a. Cookies and milk, just like I used to have.
b. A bag of fruit snacks and a soda.
c. A piece of fruit.
d. Chips or pretzels.
4. How much time a week does your child spend playing sports or engaging in other outdoor physical activities?
a. 1 or 2 days a week.
b. 3 to 5 days a week.
c. 5 to 7 days a week.
d. My child doesn't really like to play outdoors.
5. What would you say is a "normal lunch" for your child?
a. Sandwich, chips, and a juice box.
b. A Lunchable and a can of soda.
c. The hot lunch that the school provides.
d. Leftovers from our dinner the night before.
6. How many hours a day does your child spend playing video games, using the computer, or watching TV?
a. 1 to 2 hours a night.
b. 3-5 hours a night.
c. 6 hours every night.
d. My child does not do these things every night.
7. At what age did you child start exercising?
a. Since infancy my child has been exercising.
b. When my child was a toddler he/she started to exercise.
c. My child started exercising in gym class when he/she started school.
d. My child still doesn't really do any kind of exercise.
8. Complete this sentence: Resistance training is_________ a part of my child's life.
1. a) 4 b) 3 c) 2 d) 1
2. a) 1 b) 2 c) 4 d) 3
3. a) 2 b) 3 c) 1 d) 4
4. a) 3 b) 2 c) 1 d) 4
5. a) 3 b) 4 c) 2 d) 1
6. a) 3 b) 2 c) 1 d) 4
7. a) 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4
8. a) 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4
Awesome Health (8-12)
Congratulations, your child is in awesome health! You know the value of planned family meals and the importance of outdoor exercise. Everything seems to be on the up and up but beware, "Your child may be involved in three or four different sports, but they still need to learn how to exercise on their own" warns Dr. Mary Ellen Renna, New York pediatrician and nutritionist, "Parents need to teach children how to make exercise a part of their daily routine so they can remain healthy when the sport is over." Remember, muscles need proper resistance training too, and that is usually not part of any sports team training. Keep up the healthy work!
Good Health (13-17)
You are helping your child to make a lot of healthy choices; it's time to really kick it into high gear! It's hard to realize that although your child may already be thin they may not be perfectly healthy; there is more to it then that. "It is important to maintain a healthy amount of muscle on your body as well as keeping your heart in shape," Dr. Mary Ellen Renna, author of Next Generation Fitness with Mary Ellen Renna, M.D. reminds us. "Regular exercise will help maintain healthy bones, improve posture, tone and endurance and should be undertaken regardless of a child's weight." By encouraging your child to play outside, go on bike rides, or doing household choirs, you are raising a healthier child one day at a time.