American Heart Month: Combating childhood obesity

Feb 23, 2021


One of the greatest predictors of adult heart disease is childhood obesity.

In 2018, 45% of children at the 5th grade level in Tulare County were obese. That’s higher than the overall state level.

Dr. Roy Chan, board-certified family medicine physician at Adventist Health Physicians Network Tulare Multispecialty, shares the following recommendations on how to prevent childhood obesity.


One way to prevent childhood obesity is incorporating physical activity into our daily routines.

Here are a few recommendations and suggestions for the entire family:

  • School children should receive at least one hour of physical activity a day. This must be much more than playing video games.
  • During exercise, remember to focus on strengthening the cardiovascular system, muscles and bones.
  • For cardio, choose an activity that helps the heart beat fast and requires you to breathe hard. Include some vigorous cardiovascular exercise, such as running, riding a bike, playing soccer, martial arts, or swimming.
  • A good muscle workout includes activities such as climbing the jungle gym, push-ups and chin-ups.
  • Weight bearing exercises create strong healthy bones. These include jogging, hopscotch and jump roping.

Often, these activities can be combined into a fun sport, such as soccer.

Mom and dad should remember they are major influencers of their children’s growth and development, so they should participate, as well. This will help contribute to their health and the health of the entire family. Increasing activity in the daily routine can be playful and fun.

Eating Healthy

Along with burning calories, another aspect to combat childhood obesity is proper nutrition. It's very important that parents help children develop healthy eating habits early on. Cooking healthy meals can be a family-fun activity. Kids can help with the prep work and learn cooking skills while they’re at it. Approaching meal preparation with enthusiasm and joy will help pique your child’s interest.

A child’s diet should include plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Healthy sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish and beans. A variety of nuts as snacks also helps. In addition, remember to not fill up on whole fat milk, but low-fat or nonfat milk and dairy products. Low-fat cheese and yogurts can be used as a good source of calcium and vitamin D.

You should limit sugary drinks, candy and foods with saturated fats.

To learn more about healthy lifestyles for children, your primary care provider or child’s pediatrician is a good source of information. If you do not have a primary care provider, or pediatrician, Adventist Health can help you find one close to home by visiting