Tips to a Healthier Child

by Mary Ellen Renna, M.D.

The most prevalent health problem facing children today is obesity. If childhood obesity continues to increases, it could cut 2 to 5 years from the average lifespan. That could cause our current generation of children to become the first in American history to live shorter lives then their parents.

Mary Ellen Renna, M.D., a Long Island-based board certified pediatrician and a physician nutritionist, is on a mission to reverse this trend.

To combat this, she has developed a family-based nutrition and fitness program designed to educate children from infancy through adolescence. Here are some helpful tips from her program entitled Next Generation Fitness with Mary Ellen:

  • Plan your family's meals. By planning our meals you can keep track of what your family is eating and reduce the craving for eating in between meals.

  • Never skip a meal. Skipping meals will cause your metabolic rate to slow down, miss important nutrients in the day, and most likely cause your child to overcompensate by eating empty calories.

  • Fulfill the fruit, vegetable, protein, grain, dairy and nut requirement each day. This will keep your child's hunger satisfied and she will be less likely to look for empty calorie junk foods.

  • Avoid deep fried foods. Serve foods that have been sautéed, baked, broiled, roasted, boiled or grilled.

  • No preserved meats. Most preserved meats contain nitrites which are converted in our bodies to a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). This includes foods that are typically pink in color like bologna, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, corn beef and pastrami.

  • No sodas, juice drinks or sweetened drinks. Have your children drink mostly water but include skim or low fat milk, fresh fruit juice and fresh vegetable juices.

  • Exercise daily. Studies have shown that children as young as two years old should incorporate 60 minutes of exercise into their daily regimen. The 60 minutes does not have to be done all at once. Breaking it up into 10-15 minute clips makes this goal easily attainable.

  • Involve the entire family. Parents should be mentors to their children and set a healthy lifestyle for all to adhere to.

Mary E. Renna, M.D. graduated with her Medical Doctorate from the New York University School of Medicine in 1986. Dr. Renna is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a diplomat of the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, a member of Nassau County Pediatric Society, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Association, A.S.P.E.N, The Society for Clinical Pediatrics, and Docs for Tots.

Dr. Renna is a life long fitness advocate. She has extensively researched obesity and preventative health relating to exercise and nutrition. Over the past two years, this research has led to the development of the fitness and nutrition program Next Generation Fitness with Mary Ellen Renna, M.D. This program is geared toward children and their families for improved health and nutrition in children. The program is currently available in DVD and book format. She is married with three children.

Copyright © Mary E. Renna. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.