Increased screen time, poor diet linked to juvenile weight gain during pandemic

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Experts say a lot of children have gained weight during the pandemic. Some of it is because without a routine there is more screen time, leading them to eat unhealthy foods.

“The most important thing for parents to realize is when your child is overweight or obese, this is a chronic medical condition. There’s no shame, there should be no stigma, we want them to come in and ask for help," said Dr. Katie Klingberg, a family medicine physician with M Health Fairview who specializes in lifestyle and obesity medicine. “We want to partner. We want to treat obesity as a chronic disease, just like high blood pressure, just like Type 2 diabetes,”

To achieve this, Klingberg recommends 5-2-1-0 goals.

  • Challenge everyone in the family to eat five servings of fruits and veggies daily. This can be a fun family activity finding new recipes and cooking together.
  • Limit screen time to no more than two hours daily. This will allow for more time to get active and find new hobbies.
  • Enjoy one hour or more of dedicated physical activity daily. Again, this is something the entire family can do together, and it benefits everyone.
  • Eliminate all sugary beverages from the home for zero temptation. This will reduce empty calories and allow one to consume healthier food sources, like fruits and veggies.

“Diet is huge. We know if we eat a whole bunch of sugar and all of those comfort food, it feels great in the immediate moment, but sometimes minutes later, sometimes we get that crash. We start to feel yucky, we’re not as happy with ourselves,” Klingberg said.