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Dr K K Aggarwal

Plate Your Food Now

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A ‘Food Plate’ symbol has replaced the traditionally recommended ‘Food Pyramid’ of the USDA. These guidelines break down a healthy diet into 4 main quadrants on a plate: red for fruits, green for vegetables, orange for grains and purple for protein. A small blue circle attached to the plate signifies dairy products.

Fruits and vegetables occupy half of the plate space, with the vegetable portion being a little bigger than the fruit section. Eating more fruits and vegetables means consumption of fewer calories on the whole, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Fruits and vegetables are also a rich source of fiber along with vitamins and minerals.

The other half is divided between grains and proteins. Grains, with emphasis on whole grains make up one quarter of the plate. Protein is a smaller quarter of the plate. The recommendation is to aim to eat different kinds of protein in every meal.

In a major shift from the food pyramid, the Plate does not mention the number of servings for any food group or portion size. Nor does it mention fats and oils.

Remember the following tips for a healthy meal:

  • Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions, which can cause weight gain.
  • At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Reduce intake of foods high in solid fats and/or added sugar.
  • Use fat–free or low fat milk and/or dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
  • Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

Childhood obesity increasing at an alarming rate around the world

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The prevalence of obesity among children is increasing at an alarming rate. Overweight four-year-old children have a doubled risk of high blood pressure by age six, raising the hazard of future heart attack and stroke. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.

Obesity is a multifactorial disorder; unhealthy diet – eating foods high in fats, sugar and salt (junk food, processed food) and a sedentary lifestyle (TV, internet, computer and mobile games have taken precedence over outdoor sports) contribute significantly to this escalating epidemic. Women should shed extra pounds before becoming pregnant, avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy, and quit smoking, as these are all established risk factors for childhood obesity.

Most obese children grow up to be obese adults. Overweight and obese children are at risk of other lifestyle disorders such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome later in life. They are more prone to joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Here are some tips that parents can follow at home to tackle obesity and unhealthy habits in children.

  • Encourage healthy eating habits right at the onset.
  • Try making favorite dishes healthier. Few changes can make even snacks healthier.
  • Avoid tempting children with calorie-rich food. It is okay to treat them but in moderation and by limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks.
  • Make kids understand the importance of being physically active.
  • Lead by example. Indulge in at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day.
  • Reduce sedentary time. While reading is a good option, too much of screen time is not.
  • Replace screen time with the outdoors and fun activities to keep children engaged.

Children with the following risk factors should be referred for early dental evaluation

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Mother/primary caregiver with active cavities
  • Parent/caregiver with low socioeconomic status
  • Prolonged breastfeeding or bottle-feeding (>12 months)
  • Frequent consumption of sugary beverages and snacks
  • Use of a bottle at bed time, especially with sweetened beverages
  • Use of liquid medication for longer than three weeks
  • Exposure to passive tobacco smoke
  • Children with special health care needs
  • Insufficient fluoride exposure
  • Visible plaque on upper front teeth
  • Enamel pits or defects