Childhood obesity is on the rise in Yakima; doctors advise lifestyle changes

Childhood obesity is on the rise in Yakima; doctors advise lifestyle changes

YAKIMA, Wa. -- Many kids in Yakima are not getting enough exercise or eating healthy meals which doctors say is causing childhood obesity in the valley.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC) is encouraging families to make healthy lifestyle changes.

YVFWC Pediatrician Dr. Aaron Grigg says childhood obesity is on the rise in Yakima with more kids becoming overweight every year.

“The Yakima area has a lot of children with obesity and we’ve been seeing this as an epidemic that’s coming out specifically in our area and compared to other areas of the state we are among the leading areas," said Grigg.

Dr. Grigg says children with obesity are more likely to be obese as adults.

“We’re also putting that fat down in our heart in our liver and in areas that can cause us to have a shorter life spam so things like kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, earlier heart attacks all of those can stem from obesity," said Grigg.

He says childhood obesity can be influenced by many factors including too much screen time, lack of sleep, not enough physical activity and unhealthy eating habits.

YVFWC Registered Dietitian Lissette Llamas says parents should prevent giving their kids any sugary items.

“High sugary beverages for example sodas, certain juices, energy drinks. Another one would be sweets for example the typical candy, chocolates any type of candies," said Llamas.

She says parents can make healthy eating habits by replacing sugary items with fruits or vegetables and avoiding artificial sweeteners.

“A good replacement would be fruits either fresh or dried, if its dried just watching the portions because they are more concentrated in sugar, and also they can dip the fruits in yogurt, make their own yogurt dip or also adding a little bit of peanut butter to it to make it a little bit more fun," said Llamas.

Dr. Grigg says making sure kids do outdoor activities like going on bike rides or playing basketball at a park as well as decreasing screen time to two hours or less a day can help children have a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on how to make better eating choices go to the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic website.

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