Healthy Kids    

Get Fit Together

How you can keep your family healthy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. How should you handle issues relating to your child's weight? Should you encourage healthy eating?  Should you nag your child to exercise? Dr. Sharagim Kemp, a board-certified family practitioner at Health Quest Medical Practice in Rhinebeck, knows how parents can take action to get their family in shape and stay healthy!

Doctor discusses how weight affects health

We think of heart disease, which is the number one killer of Americans, and diabetes as medical problems for older adults. But according to Dr. Kemp that is not the true story. "Heart disease and diabetes both start early on," says Dr. Kemp. "We need to be proactive in keeping our kids healthy so that they don't experience poor health in later years." Diabetes has been associated with being overweight. Did you know that overweight children also may experience joint problems? "The joints of overweight children have to compensate to support the extra weight, which can change their posture," says Dr. Kemp. Overweight children can also have vitamin deficiencies and are at a higher risk for certain types of cancers that feed off of fat cells.

How do you determine when a child needs to lose weight?

According to Dr. Kemp, the BMI scale, which measures weight against height and frame size, is still the basic determining factor for knowing when a patient needs to lose weight. "Children's BMI is different than adult BMI," says Dr. Kemp. "You always want to allow for growth spurts, but want to keep the BMI in check." The goal for parents is to never let the kids get overweight. "When children start to walk, you should make sure they are active for at least one hour a day," says Dr. Kemp. "If you do this, your children will continue to be active later in life." Where should families begin? If you're worried about your child's weight, start with a visit to the doctor. "I give my patients exercise guidelines. I tell them to start by playing at the local playground,” says Dr. Kemp. "All you need is exaggerated movement… even if it's washing dishes."

Exercising as a family

Get the entire family motivated by exercising as a family. "If you exercise with the children, they are going to want to be involved," says Dr. Kemp. "There will be days you're not motivated, but you have to be consistent." Exercising as a family doesn't have to be a big production… you can simply go for a family walk around the block. "Throwing a ball around with your kids is a great activity," says Dr. Kemp. "You don't have to be an all-star to throw a ball." "It is important to remember that teens need to be active for at least 30 minutes a day and younger children should be active for an hour," says Dr. Kemp.

Don't have time to exercise?

It's very difficult to find an hour these days, so Dr. Kemp encourages families to turn off all electronics and take 15 minutes after dinner to sit on the floor and roll a ball around or run around the yard. "You don't have to be experts to get fit… you just have to move," says Kemp.


Dr. Kemp is a board certified family practitioner and sees patients in HQMP's office in Rhinebeck.

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