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President, Institute for Fitness and Health
Featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, etc.
Hosted three successful PBS Television specials on personal health
Professional speaker to leading organizations such as the Boeing Company and the Federal Reserve Bank
Served as the only non-medical member of the National Institute of Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Expert Panel
CBN.com Experts warn that we're in the midst of an epidemic of overweight and out-of-shape kids. Children and teens today are more sedentary, weigh more, have more body fat, and are less fit. Today, 20 million kids - one in four - are overweight. The average 12-year old now weighs 11.5 pounds more than his counterpart in 1973. And excess weight is not the only problem. Consider this: about one-third of kids have high cholesterol, two-thirds of teens fail basic fitness tests, and less than 1% of children eat a balanced diet.
The lifestyle habits of kids today are putting them at greater risk for adult health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes at an earlier age. Joe says it is up to the parents to influence family eating and exercise habits. He offers some tips that parents can do for their child’s heart health:
(1) Balanced Eating - Before taking any action with respect to your child's eating habits, be certain the goal of "fit, not thin" is understood. This means getting rid of the word "diet" and replacing it with the concept of "balanced eating." The proper perspective is not to produce a slim child, but to foster healthy lifestyle habits that produce fitness and health for a lifetime.
(2) Set an example - Kids might not always do what their parents tell them to do, but they will certainly be watching to see what their parents are doing. This often means picking up unhealthy lifestyle habits at an early age. Parents are the single most influential factor regarding how active and healthy a child will be. If you live on fast food and eat a high-fat diet…chances are, so will your child.
(3) Make fast food your friend - Not all fast-food choices are fatty. There are a number of low-fat items on most fast food menus. Help your child make smarter choices. Choose the McGrilled chicken sandwich (minus the mayo) vs. the Quarter Pounder with Cheese or just don't supersize! However, if your child insists on the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, be sure to lighten up the rest of the day's meals. Joe says “when children eat healthy at home they will understand that eating less healthy food away from home is the exception and not the norm.”
(4) Share physical activities - Get your child away from television, computers and video games and get them moving. The goal is not formal exercise, but physical activities like helping to wash the family car, going for a bike ride or taking the dog for a walk. The objective for parents is to get their children active now and set them on the road to staying active throughout their lifetime. Also, parents should inquire if physical education classes are offered at their child's school.
(5) Eat breakfast - Grandmother was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your child off right with oatmeal or a fortified cereal with skim milk.
HEART HEALTHY COOKING
Deciding that your family is going to eat healthier is a lifestyle change, and no lifestyle change is easily accomplished. Researchers estimate that is takes from six weeks all the way to six months to establish a lifestyle habit. "As most cooks know, balancing health and taste is not always easy," says Joe. “Think in terms of manageable building blocks,” says Joe. Some healthy eating tips include: (1) Make healthy meals, eaten together, a family habit; (2) Small changes, made gradually over time, can add up to a tremendous difference. For example, cook your pancakes in a nonstick pan rather than the traditional skillet with added fat. If you’re using ground beef, brown and drain it before adding it to your recipe.
NOT YOUR ORDINARY JOE
In 1977 Joe Piscatella was a successful businessman. He and his wife had just moved into a new home with their 6-year old daughter and 4-year old son. Everything was going so well . . . until it suddenly fell apart. Experiencing discomfort in his chest while playing tennis, Joe went for a routine physical exam. Two days later he had emergency open-heart bypass surgery for a 95% blockage of the coronary arteries. He was 32 years old. The prognosis did not look good. In fact, one doctor predicted that Joe would not live to see his children graduate from high school. But Joe
refused to accept this, he did extensive research and interviewed medical experts. He created a plan for a healthy, balanced life-style that he could implement. As a result, tests now reveal a reversal of heart disease. But more importantly, now age 61, he has lived to see his son and daughter graduate from college, has had the privilege to walk his daughter down the aisle, made a toast at his son's wedding, and has held his first grandchild.
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