More than one-third of children in South Carolina are overweight or obese. “Overall, we have a very carbohydrate-heavy diet and much of what we consume is processed, such as chips, cookies, granola bars, crackers and cereals made from refined grains and refined sugar,” said pediatric endocrinologist Lisa Knight, M.D., assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.
“Another contributor to childhood obesity is the lack of exercise. We are not as active as we should be and much of our time is spent on sedentary activities, such as using video games, computers, cell phones and watching television,” said Knight.
“Studies have shown that treating obesity is much more effective when started before the age of six,” said Knight. “Once a child is in a morbidly obese category, it is much harder to help a child achieve a normal, healthy weight.”
When Kelly Nolan of Sumter noticed that her daughter, Katherine, had put on a little weight, she made an appointment with the family’s pediatrician. “I was a little concerned and wanted to find out what steps we could take as a family to become healthier,” said Nolan.
Nolan’s pediatrician, Kristy Rollins, M.D. , pediatrician with Colonial Pediatrics in Sumter, referred Katherine to the Healthy Lifestyles Clinic at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. “I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect at first,” said Katherine. “Once I got to know the staff and saw that they really wanted me to succeed, I became very comfortable with them.”
“It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but Dr. Knight and the Healthy Lifestyles team helped us recognize that making small, daily changes can make all the difference,” said Nolan. The family learned about portion sizes, healthy snack choices, and the importance of choosing water or calorie-free beverages most of the time. “I’m a true believer that kids also should drink milk regularly,” said Nolan.
One of Katherine’s goals was to become more active. “I’m not a big fan of doing sports, but I made it a point to jump rope for 10 minutes a day or go for a walk or a bike ride with my family,” said Katherine.
The Nolans also go out to restaurants less frequently and they read labels and serving sizes on foods.
“We realized that Katherine’s brother was eating six cookies, when the bag said the serving size was two,” said Nolan. “We embraced these changes as a lifestyle, not a diet. We looked for ways to make fitness fun. When we have treats, we plan ways to burn off those extra calories,” she added.
Katherine started the Healthy Lifestyles program in January 2014 and in July 2015, she “graduated.” The 11-year-old lost 20 pounds and achieved a health Body Mass Index (BMI). “I would encourage other families to do this,” said Katherine. “It might seem hard at first, but it is so rewarding.”
Nolan’s husband is in the Air Force and they have three other children – a son, 15, a daughter, 8, and a son, 5. “We don’t deny ourselves,” said Nolan. “If we want a treat, we have it, but we do it in moderation and we make fitness a priority. You don’t need a lot of money to do this. You just need to make smarter choices each day and look for ways to be active. Getting healthier has to start at home.”
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About Palmetto Health Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital was South Carolina’s first children's hospital and treats more than 80,000 children each year. It has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center and offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique healthcare needs of children. With more than 200 professionals that work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters.