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Avoiding 'Recession Obesity'

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Once considered “adult” problems, today’s children are developing health problems – including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at alarming rates.  Place much of the blame at the feet of obesity. Obese kids are not only at risk for health problems, their academic and social well being is also jeopardized by their weight.

Children living in low income communities have it tough. To make matters worse they now face what is being called “Recession Obesity”. When economic times are tough – money is tight and parents look for ways to cut corners.

For many, harder times can mean eating more fast food. It is inexpensive, tasty and immediately gratifying.

But when fast food becomes a family’s habit, parents and children shift to higher calorie, less nutritious meals and a battle is lost in the weight war.

The good news is you can save money and eat nutritiously. Say you want to eat out at a casual restaurant but worried about the cost. Try sharing entrees to conserve both cash and calories. Most family-style restaurants offer an array of hot vegetables, lean meats, grilled chicken or fish, and you can usually get a baked potato with sour cream and a salad with low-cal dressing. Some even have a “healthy” or “lite” items on their menus.

Once you venture beyond those “safe” options, however, watch out. “Family-style restaurants may be cheap, but if you don’t want to blow the savings on doctor bills, order with caution.

Plan a family evening around a meal at home. Supermarket chains are cutting prices on everything from chicken to bananas and soup.  Ask your children to pick a few nutritious items to prepare together.  Stay away from sugary cereals and too many baked goods. Bottom line: You can tighten your family’s financial belt without expanding their waistlines.

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