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Health Tips for PKs
We have all heard the statistics: During the past three decades, obesity has increased among children of all ages, and more than one-third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Among adolescents, ages 12–19 years, it is estimated that 34 percent are overweight and another 18.1 percent are obese.  This translates to more than half of the entire adolescent population being above the normal weight, and it means more chronic disease risk. This unhealthy weight issue affects children of all ethnicities, income levels and religious affiliations, including Seventh-day Adventists and, yes, our beloved pastors' kids (PKs).

Why is this a big concern and what can you do to help your child?

Today, doctors are seeing diseases such as diabetes, breathing problems, psychological disorders such as depression, kidney disease, heart disease, inflammation and poor circulation — which once affected only older adults — striking children as young as six. Being overweight as an adolescent is also associated with stroke and premature mortality in adulthood. Why is this happening? Most researchers agree this issue is very complex, but the most common culprits are activity and food. We know that:
  • Less than 30 percent of all children ages 6–17 engage in vigorous activity (at least 20 minutes of physical activity that makes the child sweat and breathe hard).
  • Ninety percent of the population in the U.S. does not eat enough vegetables, and 80 percent does not eat enough fruits. 
If we could engage our children in at least one hour of physical activity daily, five days a week, and encourage an intake of five fruits and five vegetables daily, we would contribute immensely to their health now and in the future.
Practical Ideas

Set the example:
  • Increase the amount of fiber-rich plant foods in your menus at home.
  • For every hour of Internet or video, do 30 minutes of physical activity.
  • Get a pedometer, set a walking goal for yourself and track your progress.
  • Learn practical ways to cook more healthfully and try new, fun recipes.
  • Replace sodas and pre-packaged juices with water or fresh juices.
Make it fun for the whole family:
  • Join Adventists InStep for Life as a family, and set family goals for physical activity, get awards and track miles (register at www.adventistsinstepforlife.org).
  • Plan for fun family time outside in nature and fresh air.
  • Replace family time in front of the TV with fun physical activities.
  • Start a family vegetable garden and eat produce from the garden.
Learn other ideas at the website above. As a parent, you have more influence on your children than you can imagine. Teaching by example will speak louder than words. Start today! 

Katia Reinert, PhD(c), CRNP, FNP-BC, is director of Health Ministries for the North American Division and director of Adventist Recovery Ministries.