By Marlena Chavira-Medford/Staff Writer
Most parents know that getting a preschooler to eat his leafy greens is no small feat. In fact, only a staggering 1 percent of kids ages 2 to 19 meet the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) food pyramid recommendations, according to National Health Examination Surveys. There are some tips to getting tots to eat well and, in fact, Del Mar resident and pediatrician Christine Wood has written the book on it: “How to Get Kids to Eat Great & Love It!”
“I wanted to write this book because time and time again, parents would come into my office saying that the dinner table was becoming a battlefield,” Wood said, who is a mother and has been a pediatrician for 25 years. “Parents get into this ‘three-more-bites’ battle and they end up micro-managing their kids’ eating habits. Most of us were taught to clean our plates, but the days of ‘clean plate club’ are over.”
That’s because for most growing youngsters, dinner tends to be the lightest meal of the day, Wood said.
“But if a parent pushes a child to finish that dinner, it can sometimes cause obesity down the road. Kids need to learn to respect their body’s signals when they are full, and that won’t happen if someone is making them eat more.”
Childhood obesity has recently taken front and center stage after First Lady Michelle Obama launched “Let’s Move,” a national campaign to help kids be healthier. According to the Center for Disease Control, over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled — and today, nearly one in three children in this nation are overweight or obese.
Wood is doing her part to fight that epidemic locally, serving as co-chair of the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative, which aims to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in San Diego County through advocacy, education, policy development, and environmental change. Part of that has included reaching out to neighborhood schools and youth centers, asking them to cut out the sugary drinks and snacks.
“Look at your typical athletic event: There are donuts on the sidelines. But what if there was some fresh fruit? Small differences like that can have a big impact,” Wood said. “And it’s important that schools get on board to reinforce the healthy choices Mom and Dad are making at home.
“The bottom line is that adults, especially parents, need to realize they have a big role in the health of their kids. If parents can realize that, and do their part, they can give their kids one of life’s best gifts: good health.”
Wood’s book, “How to Get Kids to Eat Great & Love It!” is available via her website
or at amazon.com. Wood is currently practicing general pediatrics at El Camino Pediatrics. For more information about her, or to subscribe to her free newsletter for parents, visit
- The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970 Let’s Move, 2010
*American children are getting 40% of their calories from extra fat and added sugars National Health Examination Surveys, 2007
- More children are being diagnosed with diseases linked to overweight and obesity previously seen only in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease The Obesity Society, 2009
- In California, there are four times the number of fast food restaurants and convenience stores as grocery stores and produce vendors California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 2007