A local doctor has advice on creating healthy habits at a young age

A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine found a strong connection between obesity at a young age and obesity as teenager.

The study followed over 50,000 children and found that 90% of those children that were obese at three years of age were also obese as teenagers. In those obese teenagers, the study found that the greatest increase in body mass index – which is used to measure obesity – happened when they were between two and six years old.

“Everything is kind of a mix of . . . nature and nurture. Genetics are definitely a big part of it, but that’s not the only part of it,” said Kayla Heidinger M.D., a resident physician with Mayo Clinic Health System.

Heidinger said other contributors to obesity include too many calories from things like sugary drinks and fatty foods and not getting enough activity.

“Ways to decrease that intake [include] eating as a family: not in front of the T.V., kind of avoiding distractions while you’re eating. So, then you kind of realize when you body is full and stop when you’re full and teaching your kids those habits at a young age,” said Heidinger.

She recommends 60 minutes of activity a day for children and less that two hours of screen time per day.

Heidinger said that by teaching kids healthy habits at a young age parents not only set them up for a healthy lifestyle, but also the parents may pick up some of those healthy habits themselves.