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Posted by: thepinetree on 09/28/2017 02:55 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 09/30/2017 10:01 AM
Expires: 01/01/2022 12:00 AM
:

Time to Get Serious About the Importance of Healthy Eating ~ Dr. Athena Taylan

San Andreas, CA...While diet fads come and go, the best practice for healthy living is rooted in something we heard as children from our parents: eat fruits and vegetables. It is as true today as it was a generation ago: Fruits and vegetables lead to a healthier lifestyle. September is “Fruits and Veggies: More Matters Month” – a national call to action designed to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and veggies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 12.7 million children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese, and a contributing factor is unhealthy eating habits.





As a pediatrician at Mark Twain Medical Center’s Valley Springs Clinic, I am witness to childhood and youth obesity firsthand. At least once a day, I see a young patient who is struggling to feed their body with the proper nutrition. My heart aches for young people because I know that, if left unchecked, poor nutrition can lead to a wide range of physical and mental challenges.

Apples, grapes and other fruits have been pushed aside by processed foods and a deluge of snacks filled with cleverly-disguised (and tough to pronounce) food additives that have shown to increase blood pressure and lead to diabetes and other maladies.

Consider: Many health experts agree that consuming unhealthy food can adversely affect early childhood development, accelerate the onset of diabetes, heart disease and lead to a wide range of dental and oral health issues.ii In addition, destructive eating habits can result in an abnormal transition from late childhood to early adolescence.

The good news is that throughout the year, Mark Twain Medical Center through its affiliation with Dignity Health partners with active local groups to improve the health of our greater community, focusing on the most significant needs.

According to Mark Twain Medical Center’s 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, a report conducted every three years to identify the major health issues in the local community, only 38 percent of Calaveras County residents consume the recommended five servings a day of fruits or vegetables. In addition, 50 percent of survey respondents in Calaveras revealed they have consumed fast food at least three times in a given week, compared to only 6 percent that indulged just once.

The upside is the Calaveras region is doing better than the rest of the nation. Ninety percent of adults and children nationally do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.iii The bad news is, more work certainly needs to be done in our community.

That’s why Mark Twain Medical Center, through its affiliation with Dignity Health, has partnered with the Calaveras Unified School District to develop a focused, garden-based nutrition education program for preschool through 12th graders. The program includes a blend of physical education and healthy eating curriculum designed to ingrain healthy eating habits at a young age.

The school district and Mark Twain Medical Center recognize the important link between student health and learning as fertile ground so our young people and leaders of tomorrow can make healthy choices today. The program is also an important tool for parents in promoting student wellness and preventing and reducing childhood obesity.

In honor of More Matters Month we encourage the community to consider eating habits as the key ingredient to an extended, healthy life.

# # #

Dr. Athena Taylan is a pediatrician at Mark Twain Medical Center’s Valley Springs Clinic


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