CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Five-year-old Charlotte Lowery loves her fruit. "Strawberries, because they're really good for you," she says.
That's exactly the message sent by health professionals at a Childhood Obesity Forum hosted by Martin's Thursday. They want parents teaching their children to eat fresh produce, lean meat and dairy, and whole grains while limiting the amount of sodium and sugar they eat.
"Those will have a tremendous impact on a child's taste," said Martin's Nutritionist, Valerie Waters. "So as soon as they start to get to used to those different taste, they'll accept other foods better. They'll even tend to want them more at home."
The CDC says roughly 17% of Americans ages 2-19 are obese.That's more than 12 million young people and the number continues to grow. Almost three quarters of obese youth have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and type two diabetes.
"We are a very sedentary society," said Charlotte's mother, Erin Lowery. "We're about video games and things, so you have to try harder to get them outside and get them involved in activities and the exercise they need."
Another big focus was offering healthy options at school. This comes one day after Michelle Obama visited a Charlotte school to promote her healthy eating program. Whether it's whole grains and vegetables in the cafeteria or physical fitness programs, school leaders say obesity is an epidemic that needs to be stopped.
"We're not going to see, probably, the numbers really start to fall until we really take action and we'll maybe see those affects in a couple years," Waters added.
Martins has a healthy affordable eating plan. If you interested you can call: 364-3644