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Published on July 11, 2013

A Pediatric Dietitian's Take on Keeping Kids Healthy

Helping kids — and families — stay healthy with powerful insights on diet and exercise

Statistical evidence overwhelmingly shows obese children face an increased risk for a lifetime of serious health conditions:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
  • Diabetes and diabetic complications
  • Bone breaks and fractures
  • Depression and other mental illnesses
  • Several types of cancer

Scary, isn’t it?

In the same way other chronic health conditions require ongoing attention, childhood obesity isn’t solved with a one-time fix. Instead, success is based in a long pattern of healthy food choices and activities.

Childhood Obesity — Where it Starts

Dean Clinic pediatrician Kari Hegeman, MD explains. “There isn’t a single ‘cookbook’ answer to childhood obesity because the problem has complex causes. In some cases, parents simply need better information so they can make better decisions about their kids’ nutrition and exercise. In other cases, older kids need to engage and participate in the planning.”

Dr. Hegeman continues. “From societal factors to specific behaviors that get passed down from generation to generation, many things contribute. Of course, as parents, we all want our children to be healthy. So as care providers, if we can illustrate better choices and healthier lifestyles, that’s what we need to do. We’re fortunate at Dean to have excellent pediatric dietitians who offer thorough evaluations, real strategies and age-specific programming.”

The Pediatric Dietitian Approach

With an open-minded approach, Dean Clinic pediatric dietitians help their patients — and entire families — learn ways to improve their diets and incorporate more exercise.

Amanda Hellman, RD at Dean Clinic – West in Madison explains her approach to pediatric nutrition. “Without totally denying video games and fast food, we help our patients re-learn and make better choices. We help kids and their families sort through priorities and alternatives so they can make meaningful changes,” she says. “These are gradual changes, but they’re critically important.”

Working in conjunction with pediatricians and family practice physicians, the pediatric dietitians at Dean Clinic provide an important path to wellness. “There’s a lot of confusion out there,” says Amanda, “and a lot of room for improvement. As nutrition experts, our role is to help with choices along the way.”

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