New Weight Center for Children (ENERGY) Starting at Mass General Hospital for Children
I went to a really great event at Mass General Hospital for Children and heard Dr. Christina Scirica, Director of Parenting for Health, Inspired for Health, and ENERGY (Exercise, Nutrition and Relaxation for Growing Youth). Yep, you guessed it from her complex title. She’s an expert on childhood health and weight with a background in Pediatric Pulmonary and Childhood Obesity. Surprisingly, these two areas are linked!
As a mother of kids herself, Dr. Scirica experienced weight issues with her own daughter who’s BMI was in the 96% when she was four years old. Taking matters into her own hands, she found healthy solutions to bring her daughter’s weight chart on a downward decline. As a mom, she worried that her daughter might have body image issues if she nagged about snacking and weight. Instead, she focuses on mindful eating, healthy food choices and a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise.
Now, as the head of ENERGY, she is bringing a program to Mass General Hospital that will also roll out into their associated network of hospitals including Newton-Wellesley Hospital. This is a weekly family based weight management program for children ages 10 years old and older.
And she shared some helpful concrete advice:
- She discourages using food as a treat.
- She discourages diets for children. Instead she promotes a healthy lifestyle.
- Eating at the table as a family helps to make meals a bonding experience.
- Think about the Quality/Quantity/Context of Food. Where are we eating? When are we eating? Why are we eating?
- Distracted eating = Overeating.
- Pleasing all palates. Don’t cook a different meal for kids.
- Is my child eating enough? Kids will not starve themselves.
- Will my child be hungry? Snacks. Don’t overpack just to give choices, especially when your child is in daycare or school all day. We’re conditioning kids to snack all day.
- Eating disorders. Statistically, this is rare.