Obesity expert provides tips for children to avoid unhealthy weight gain

September is National Childhood Obesity Prevention Month. With children spending more time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are at risk of gaining weight, with negative impacts on their health.

One Victorville mom and her son who has special needs are dealing with many obstacles, but they're finding ways to adopt healthy habits.

"COVID-19 kind of made us all complacent," said Heidi Battaglia.

Staying at home all these months has had a detrimental effect on her and her 14-year old son Timothy Gibb, who now weighs 287 pounds.

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"We didn't have anywhere to go. We didn't have anything to do so," Battaglia said. "Eating was there. And so I thought, you know this has to change."

Battaglia sought help from internal and obesity medicine expert Dr. Sameer B. Murali with Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

"The comfort that food provides has really become more enhanced," he said. "We have to start early with children, but really starting early what does that mean? It means starting with ourselves, because we're modeling the behavior for our children."

Gibb was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality that's led to mobility issues. Despite setbacks, Battaglia is learning to make healthy changes.

"Even though we are in a pandemic you have to think outside the box," she said. "Little things like a walk around the house a few times. You can walk the length of the house."

Gibb said, "There's like a circle downstairs. And I'm doing little laps."

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Murali suggests families move the furniture, play stick ball with tube socks or play hockey with a broom. Make it fun. Try downloading a dance app.

"And with your own music and then you're dancing and then you stop. Exercise can be fun. Exercise doesn't have to be a whole hour," Murali said.

He added if you want to drink more water, link it to something you use everyday - like your phone.

Murali said, "My prompt for taking a sip of water is that every time I pick up my phone, I'm going to take a sip of water. Then, it will happen naturally."

Gibb now loves water and stopped all sugary drinks.
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