Get your child an an­nual health check-up be­fore school be­gins

The Standard Journal - - Lifestyle -

Back-to-school is a log­i­cal time for chil­dren to have an an­nual health check-up.

Doc­tors can make sure your child is main­tain­ing a healthy weight and alert you to any po­ten­tial prob­lems. Chil­dren play­ing school sports may also need a signed re­lease from their pe­di­a­tri­cian.

The good health list should in­clude:

Im­mu­niza­tions. Don’t be sur­prised if your child needs a shot or two. Most ele­men­tary schools re­quire stu­dents to be cur­rent on child­hood vac­ci­na­tions. Newer re­quire­ments also call for vac­ci­na­tions or booster shots be­fore mid­dle or high school.

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. Kids should strive for at least one hour a day of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity; re­cess and PE count to­ward that to­tal. Lim­it­ing TV and video games not only makes time for home­work, but for ac­tive play too. Chil­dren that get at least one hour a day of ex­er­cise have less stress and an eas­ier time main­tain­ing a healthy weight.

Eye exam. Poor vi­sion can cause headaches and may also cause oth­er­wise good stu­dents to fall be­hind be­cause they can’t see the board. An op­tometrist can fit your child with glasses if needed and rec­om­mend an ap­pro­pri­ate age for chil­dren to be­gin us­ing con­tact lenses.

Sleep. School-aged chil­dren, in­clud­ing teens, need at least nine hours of sleep a night, but many don’t get that much. On school nights, it’s im­por­tant to have con­sis­tent and en­forced times for video games to be tuned off so kids can ‘wind down’ be­fore go­ing to bed.

Nu­tri­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol, Ge­or­gia ranks in the top 20 states in child­hood obe­sity, with 35 per­cent of Ge­or­gia kids over­weight and 16.5 per­cent con­sid­ered obese. Poor nu­tri­tion and lack of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity are ma­jor rea­sons. Be sure to in­clude fruits and vegeta­bles in your chil­dren’s lunch and have them avail­able for af­ter-school snacks. Even more im­por­tant: elim­i­nate soda. Each 12-ounce can of soft drink con­tains ap­prox­i­mately 10 tea­spoons of sugar and greatly in­creases a child’s risk of obe­sity.

Safety. Go over ba­sic safety rules with your kids be­fore start­ing school. They should know to wear a seat­belt in a car or on the school bus (if their bus is equipped with them), to wear a hel­met if bik­ing to school, and fol­low rules for cross­ing the street if walk­ing. Chil­dren also should have a list of fam­ily and emer­gency phone num­bers to keep in their back­packs.

Health pro­fes­sion­als note that the back-toschool sea­son is a great op­por­tu­nity for fam­i­lies to fo­cus on healthy pri­or­i­ties. Get to­gether with your kids and see what other ideas you can come up with to in­crease healthy eat­ing and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity as a fam­ily – and how you can work those ideas into the backto-school rou­tine.

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