Childhood Obesity: Basic Nutrition Principles

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Guest: Mary Jane Oxeman – Nutritionist

Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatrist

Announcer: Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast.

Dr. Linda Austin: I am Dr. Linda Austin, talking with Mary Jane Oxeman, who is a Nutritionist and Director of the Lean Team here at the Children’s Hospital Medical University of South Carolina. Mary Jane, let’s talk about some basics of nutrition. We always hear that fruits and vegetables are so important for children to develop in a healthy way. Are there particular fruits and vegetables that are better than others?

Mary Jane Oxeman: All fruits and vegetables are great. They are very high in water, which means that they are very low in fat and low in calories with lots of minerals and vitamins.

Dr. Linda Austin: How about French fries, that’s a good vegetable?

Mary Jane Oxeman: It should as it tastes good, doesn’t it, but what happens when you fry potatoes; potatoes are very nutritious to begin with, yes of course, they are high in vitamin C, fiber, and all sorts of good things, but when you fry any type of food, what you do is you displace the water and replace it with fat, so it ends up doubling or tripling the number of calories.

Dr. Linda Austin: Is it important to have variation in the fruits and vegetables, I mean if a child let’s say only likes apples, is that okay or do you think it’s important that there should be wide variety of fruits and vegetables?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Variety is very, very important; however, if you are talking about the difference between eating cookies and eating any single fruit or vegetable, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I would just continue to encourage and continue to offer lots of different fruits and vegetables to your children.

Dr. Linda Austin: What about dairy products 01:40 says getting enough milk?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Probably not, perhaps one of the best things you could do is introduce yoghurt and have fruit with the yoghurt, for example, and that’s very, very high in calcium, high in protein, well balanced, excellent for snacks and so it’s a all-round good food.

Dr. Linda Austin: How much milk or yoghurt should a child have each day?Mary Jane Oxeman:Two to three servings and that would be an eight ounce serving.

Dr. Linda Austin: Protein ? Meat, fish, any chicken, any recommendations there?

Mary Jane Oxeman: The preferred meats would be chicken and fish. Eggs are also pretty good, but the important thing is to be aware of how you prepare the food. If you fry the food, then you have increased the calories double easily. So, how you prepare the meat is very important, but if you go with a lighter meat, pork actually is very good and chicken and fish.

Dr. Linda Austin: So, you are recommending then what broiling meat as opposed to frying or sauting?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Yes, I think broiled is very good.

Dr. Linda Austin: How about grilled?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Grilled is great too, that will be fine.

Dr. Linda Austin: So ideally always, we will be having steamed vegetables, sandwiches without mayonnaise, broiled meat, but we live in a real world and we all know that the fats do add wonderful flavor to foods and?

Mary Jane Oxeman: It makes me think about a person, who decided that the diet that person should be on as if it tastes good, spit it out and well, you don’t want to that really, but this way to make food taste good with herbs, vinegar and things like that.

Dr. Linda Austin: But let’s go deeper into this because realistically, I think it’s unrealistic to think that you are not going to have any fat on your food, you are not going to season your vegetables in any way that -- so are there no recommendations set about some oil is being better than others?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Olive oil is probably is the best of the oils to use but, control the portion, that’s very, very important. For flavor, you can combine foods for example, if you have various spices that would be good too.

Dr. Linda Austin: Certainly, we know that adults often times have to monitor their salt intake, is that a concern for children as well?

Mary Jane Oxeman: Absolutely, the habits you form as a young person are what you are going to take throughout the rest of your life. So, if you start off consuming a very high-sodium diet as a child, you will continue to do that as an adult and it would be all the more difficult if you suddenly face with yes, you do have high blood pressure and need to decrease your sodium from 10,000 mg a day to 1000 mg.

Dr. Linda Austin: Some of these guidelines that we have talked about are things that parents can do when you are eating at home, it becomes a lot more difficult when you are eating away from the home, when you are eating out. Do you have any recommendations about what to do if you are in a fast food place with your child?

Mary Jane Oxeman: If you are in a fast food place, the first thing you can do is split in order; that would be one way to handle it in order to decrease the portion. The best thing to do is avoid it.

Dr. Linda Austin: Avoid it.

Mary Jane Oxeman: Yeah.

Dr. Linda Austin: Thank you very much Mary Jane.

Mary Jane Oxeman: Thank you.

Announcer: If you have any questions about the services or programs offered at the Medical University of South Carolina or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call MUSC Health Connection at (843) 792-1414.

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