Healthy diet to the rescue

Maribel Martinez and her daughter Monica, 9, knew they needed to change their eating habits to prevent Monica from becoming obese, a condition that affects 32 percent of Tarrant County children aged 2 to 14.

Monica’s meals often included fatty foods like potato chips.

After participating in a six-week childhood obesity prevention program offered by UNT Health Science Center, the Fort Worth mother and daughter are eating healthier than ever.

“We’ve learned so much that we didn’t know,” Monica said. “I’ve tried spinach, cucumbers, celery and a bunch of other vegetables. My mom and I both feel really good.”

Doctors recorded participants’ weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. The physicians helped each family evaluate its health and set goals during medical visits at the Seminary Family Medicine Clinic in south Fort Worth.

The families held lively discussions about overcoming obstacles to healthy eating, such as cooking for large families, and created colorful posters to track progress.

This program was made possible by the American Academy of Family Physicians and its AIM-HI initiative through funding from the AAFP Foundation through a grant from the MetLife Foundation.

“These children are still under the influence of their parents, but soon they’ll be making decisions for themselves about what to eat,” said Susan Franks, PhD, program co-director.

Recently, Monica and the other children presented completed posters and thanked the physicians for helping.

“We want our children to be healthy,” said Maribel Martinez, Monica’s mom. “Thank you for teaching us what we need to know.”

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