Weight Loss for Kids: Ending the Childhood Obesity Epidemic with Dr. Michelle Levitt


Jordan: Hi and welcome to Ancient Medicine
Today. I’m your host Jordan Rubin and we are here
to share information with you that you do not want to miss. I’m here with Dr. Michelle Levitt and together
we are tackling the childhood obesity epidemic. Ancient Medicine Today is brought to you by
draxe.com. And we believe that food is medicine, but
there are also some principles and habits that we can teach our children that transcend
food to put together an entire healthy lifestyle. Dr. Levitt is an expert in childhood obesity
and in fitness. In fact, she is a pediatrician and certified
in obesity medicine. A little bit sad that there is such a thing
as obesity medicine but we know the statistics are skyrocketing. But I think we can also be excited to say
that awareness, which we’re going to talk about of healthy eating is reaching the mainstream,
certainly the major populations of America, but even here in Tennessee and where you’re
from in Northeastern Ohio, it’s becoming part of our consciousness. So, if we want to truly end the childhood
obesity epidemic, we need to follow some steps we’re going to share today. I know it’s a tricky subject because weight
loss for kids, whether it comes to a product that’s aimed for weight loss for kids, a food,
the regulations are pretty tough. It’s not something that we can tread lightly
in and when you’re talking a child about their weight, there can be major self-esteem issues. Overweight children are bullied more. There are just a lot of issues. So, I guess a question I would have for you
starting off, is it possible to make a major dent in the childhood obesity epidemic in
the face of all these forces that are telling our children to do the wrong things? Dr. Levitt: I believe it is, Jordan. But it definitely starts with awareness and
then from there, if all of us pull together, I think we can definitely make a difference. Jordan: Okay. That’s good. Speaking of awareness, that’s our first step
to ending the obesity epidemic. So, make me aware, if somebody comes to you
and say that it’s a general seminar or you’re asked to speak to school administrators or
policy within the hospital, what statistics do you share? How do you create awareness? What do you say to get us thinking and talking
about this real issue of childhood obesity? Dr. Levitt: So, I start with statistics of
basically two-thirds of adults are overweight and obese and one-third of children are overweight
and obese. Jordan: Okay. Let me back you up. Define overweight and obese. I know that there are standard definitions,
but just so everybody knows, when you say two-thirds of adults are overweight and one-third
obese, give us a way to know if we or someone we know and love falls into that category? Dr. Levitt: Okay. So, for adults, they actually use the BMI
number. Jordan: So, body mass index. Dr. Levitt: Body mass index. And the number, if it’s above 25-30, you’re
overweight and if it’s above 30, you’re considered obese. Jordan: Okay. So, that’s official. Dr. Levitt: Correct. Jordan: I heard something, tell me if this
is true. There’s some type of calculation. It works for men really well. The circumference of the waist being more
than . . . Dr. Levitt: Over 40? Jordan: More than half of your age, something
like that. Dr. Levitt: I just use if it’s 40 or above,
you’re high risk. Jordan: At your bellybutton. You’re at a high risk for. . .
Dr. Levitt: Obesity and all the obesity diseases. Jordan: Such as? Dr. Levitt: Cardiovascular disease, fatty
liver, diabetes, metabolic syndrome. Jordan: Which there are millions and millions. Dr. Levitt: Yeah. Jordan: Two-thirds of adults overweight, one-third
obese. I cut you off. What are some other statistics? Dr. Levitt: In children, one in three is overweight
or obese with 17% being obese. Jordan: Okay, so about half, half as much
as adults, but that’s staggering. Dr. Levitt: Staggering when they’re kids,
they’re already seeing at a young age. Jordan: So, 70% obesity in kids, I would guess
that . . . Dr. Levitt: Seventeen. Jordan: I’d guess 100 years ago it was nonexistent. Dr. Levitt: Zero, yeah. Jordan: Zero to 17%, one-third of kids overweight. Now, this is interesting. I learned a lot about this coaching youth
football. So, in Pop Warner football, they are very
strict about weight limits. We had kids that could not make the weight
class. This was for safety for other kids. It was not an uncommon occurrence to have
children at a certain age not make weight. You’re seeing it sort of right in front of
you. Of course, as a coach, certain body shapes
are good for certain positions, but every game, somebody on our team or the other team
had to make weight. I’m talking about six, seven, eight, nine-year
olds. Dr. Levitt: Right. Yeah. And that’s where you see it, one in three. In children, the BMI, we calculate it by the
percentile. That’s how we figure out who’s overweight
and who’s obese. We actually do their height and weight, calculate
a BMI percentile, plot it on the actual growth curve and that’s where you see by a percentile
range. So, there’s not an actual number like we follow
with adults because it’s based on their age. So, it’s actually a zone they fall into. Jordan: Now, technically, you could be a really
tall child and be in your 95th weight, but that doesn’t necessarily make you obese or
overweight. Dr. Levitt: Correct. There’s where the BMI has limitations. It doesn’t take into account tall children
or if you have more muscle mass. It’s a tool to screen and the screen prompts
us to look at what they’re eating, do some labs or risk factors and intervene. Jordan: Here’s a question. If you’re counseling a parent, how challenging
is it to talk to them about their children being overweight or obese. I imagine there’s some sensitivity there or
defensiveness. Tell us how does that occur? What happens to the average interaction with
a patient where you have to tell a mom or dad that their child is overweight or obese? What kind of pushback do you get? Dr. Levitt: So, I actually don’t use those
terms. So, I actually use the terms growth and health
and I always, always show them the growth curve. I always show them the height first because
then we’re talking about a positive thing. “How’s your child growing? Let’s look at the height.” Obviously, if they’re falling off on height,
that’s another issue and a big red flag. I always start with a positive first, let’s
look at the height, how we’re growing, then I briefly show the weight curve and then I
go into the BMI curve. So, the weight curve, I usually say, “We’d
just like your height and weight to match a little bit more to be a little more healthier.” Then I go into the BMI curve and what I do
is I show them a color-coded one with green, yellow, and red and I use the terms of which
zone you’re in as far as health. So, if I say you’re in a green zone, you’re
in a healthy zone. If you’re in a yellow zone, we’re creeping
into being at risk for some diseases and if you’re in the red zone, you’re at high risk
to have diseases. Then it prompts me to say if you’re in the
red zone, we do have to do some labs. Jordan: Okay. Dr. Levitt: So, I kind of focus all on health
and growth and then I usually try to tap into, “Labs, that means my child’s not healthy,”
versus focusing on a weight number. Jordan: Got it. And then at that point, when a parent finds
out their child is in the red zone, meaning they’re at risk for various diseases due to
their weight, what is a typical reaction? Dr. Levitt: Typically I’ve had varied. Some actually don’t let it register. I think they don’t think it’s a problem. I think that’s where awareness comes in. I think in general we don’t think it’s a problem
because it’s basically become the new norm. If two-thirds of adults are overweight or
obese and one-third of children and you look around, it’s kind of the norm, right? Jordan: I guess if a parent is overweight,
it makes it even more challenging. Dr. Levitt: Right. There’s kind of like, “Oh, this is just kind
of how our family is.” A lot of it’s not a big reaction, almost like
I don’t think they’re getting the severity of the problem. Jordan: Okay. Now here’s something very interesting. We’re talking about weight loss for kids,
ending the childhood obesity epidemic. It can be done. We’re here with Dr. Michelle Levitt, who is
a childhood obesity specialist. She works at Akron Children’s Hospital in
the sports medicine department at the Healthy Weight Clinic. Dr. Levitt: Correct. Jordan: That’s a mouthful and I botched it
again. You get a bird’s eye view in Middle America
of what people are dealing with. You said something really interesting. I love this. Step number two to end the childhood obesity
epidemic is prevention, the first 1,000 days. What is the . . . that sounds like a lot of
days, but it’s really not. What do the first 1,000 days signify? Dr. Levitt: So, the first 1,000 days is actually
from the time of conception to age 24 months. Jordan: Wow. Dr. Levitt: Yeah. So, they’ve actually done some newer research
showing that this is the big focus. When we intervene there, we will prevent childhood
obesity instead of reacting to the child who’s older who already has some problems. So, prevention in the first 1,000 days, they
break it up into three stages. One would be prenatally. Prenatally I actually consider pre-conception
as well. Jordan: Wow. Dr. Levitt: And then at time of birth, breastfeeding
or formula feeding and then lastly, complementary feeding once we get to be starting solid foods. Jordan: Did you hear that? We’re talking about preventing obesity while
in utero. So, what the mom eats . . . it’s a challenge
because women deal with nausea, particularly with the first trimester and there are other
challenges that they can have. But we’re actually going to start encouraging
moms who are expecting to eat a certain way once they find out they’re pregnant, which
is already six weeks after the fact, approximately. And then of course, you mentioned pre-conception,
which we won’t get into now, but we did have a recent program where we talked about the
importance of pre-conception nutrition and how native cultures prepared the moms and
dads to be by eating a certain way and certain types of foods. So, here’s a question for you. If you were to rank the importance of those
three stages within the thousand days, so, prenatal nutrition, immediately postnatal
or infant during the breastfeeding and/or formula, hopefully it’s breastfeeding, and
then moving from infant to toddler stage, I’d be curious to see how you rank the importance. Dr. Levitt: That’s a tough one to rank. All of them actually have been shown to be
determinants of future obesity. So, prenatally the mom’s current weight at
time of conception, whether she gains excessive amount during the pregnancy and if she develops
gestational diabetes are all very important. Then studies have shown breastfeeding versus
formula feeding, slower growth curve, better maintenance of weight and better self-adjustment
to feeding. And then complementary feeding, it’s really
hard to say compared to conception, but that might be the most important because that’s
where we’re really triggering the kid’s food preferences. But they did show the kid’s and baby’s and
infant and toddler’s food preferences are determined by what the mother eats during
pregnancy. Jordan: Wow. Did you hear that? Dr. Levitt: It is really hard to pick. Jordan: That’s hard because moms are craving
certain things. Dr. Levitt: Yes. Jordan: Children’s food preferences are dictated
or impacted by what the mom ate during the pregnancy. Okay. So, I’m going to ask you one more question
here. This is something that I’ve worked on both
personally and as I’ve coached others. This transitional feeding or what word did
you use? Dr. Levitt: Complementary feeding. Jordan: Complementary feeding is really, really
important. Tell me the first, in a perfect world, what
are the first three foods that a child gets either to complement breastfeeding or once
they completely transition? I know what most people say, “Oh, well they
need to sleep, get a little rice cereal.” I think Cheerio’s is the complementary food
of choice, some law someone wrote because that’s you see kids in their little strollers
eating Cheerio’s. What are the top three complementary foods
and why? Dr. Levitt: Okay. First off, it’s called complementary because
we want to exclusive breastfeed if we can the first six months and try not to introduce
solids too soon if you’re formula feeding. They did some studies to show formula-fed
babies that were fed solids before age four months were three times more likely to be
obese. So, foods, there is no literature that shows
which one is the best. There aren’t really any rules. Jordan: That’s why I asked your opinion. Dr. Levitt: But we’ve been trained to say,
“Oh, we’re going to start with rice cereal,” or some sort of grain that’s been processed
that I disagree with. I would say my number one food I would start
first would be avocado. Then I would move into some green vegetables
and then maybe some carrots and sweet potatoes. Jordan: Excellent. Dr. Levitt: That would be my top three. Jordan: I’m going to back up because this
is absolutely astounding in my mind. I want to make sure I’ve got this right. Infants that are formula fed, if they consume
solids prior to four months, did you say they’re three times . . .
Dr. Levitt: Three times . . . Jordan: Three times more likely to be obese. Dr. Levitt: Yeah. Jordan: Formula is not great, although I have
created a formula that we fed three of our children because two of them, one of them
who we adopted, Alexis, we received her when she was two days old and Samuel, when he was
a few months old, Joshua transitioned and I made a formula with 14 ingredients. You can’t buy it anywhere. It took hours, but boy was it worth it. Dr. Levitt: Did you use coconut milk, goat’s
milk. What did you use? Jordan: We used goat milk, sometimes sheep
milk. Oils were the key, mixing multiple different
oils to approximate the GLA and the EPA and DHA. It was awesome, looked kind of like a cappuccino
and smelled funny. They thrived on it. What we did, typically the first food we would
give would be a warmed egg yolk, so a three-minute egg-yolk, not the white because it can be
allergenic. Samuel, my nine-year old son, had an initial
allergy to yolk. You could see it. He got some raised bumps around his lips. We started him on a bone broth blended with
veggies, so a chicken soup. We would make it every week. We’d freeze it. What’s interesting is that’s his favorite
food today. So, he loved it. We would do this puree of bone broth, chicken
meat, and veggies. Then avocado was third and then we would do
a lot of avocado, a little banana, but I found as soon as you introduce sweets, you are done,
off the reservation, just as all of us are. I think that’s really cool. Preventing and ending childhood obesity is
about prenatal nutrition. It’s about immediate postnatal or infant and
then transitioning into a toddler. But if you’re interested in doing this right
and you’re a young lady of childbearing age, start thinking about your own nutrition because
preconception is challenging because we don’t know when that’s exactly going to happen,
but we want to prepare. That’s really cool. Remember, the first 1,000 days, eat closer
to this, not as close to that. Be careful with sweets because even a little
bit will get you going. Breast milk is fairly sweet as it is. Dr. Levitt: Correct. Jordan: But when you start with a banana,
it’s really hard to give that avocado after that. Dr. Levitt: You kind of asked why, the reason
why I say those foods is because we are programmed to like sweets, so those give more bitter
and sour, which actually set the taste buds up to eat better as a toddler. Jordan: High fat is key. One of the challenges of infant formula, you
can’t get a lot of fats and powders and they’re really not what you’re getting from breast
milk. One more thing I’ll say is if you cannot make
a formula as I described, something I did with Samuel who was in foster care his first
few months, we couldn’t ask the foster mom to make that kind of formula. So, what we did was took an organic formula
and we put a little bit of cod liver oil and coconut oil in it so we could spike that. But Samuel had really bad eczema the first
year and a half because he was barely breastfed. He was bottle fed and that was just part of
his makeup in the genetic weaknesses. Intervene early. Well, gosh, we’re talking about intervening
really early, but give us an example. We talked about the complementary foods. So, what is a priority diet when you are weaning? Now, here’s something you didn’t mention. I’m going to back up myself. Grains such as rice and cereal, Cheerio’s,
etc., we don’t produce enzymes to digest grains until we’re about three. Here’s what’s really interesting. The ideal breastfeeding time and the [inaudible
00:16:03] calls this nuts, is three years. I don’t know if you ever studied this, but
weaning age in biblical times and in history was three. In fact, they did a celebration . . . I’m
going to tell a little biblical story. So, remember when Isaac was three, they had
a celebration and Ishmael was teasing him. Ishmael was 12 or 13. Isaac was 3. That’s when in a Hebrew family, they would
wean the child. They’d have a celebration. So, the enzymes that you produce as an infant
are made to digest dairy or animal proteins and fats and dairy carbohydrates, not starches
from grains. That may cause children to sleep, but it’s
not because of something good. It’s actually a negative. So, help us understand, when you transition
from breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what is an ideal diet for a toddler that is about
the age of this young boy on the screen? Dr. Levitt: Definitely like real whole foods. So, we don’t need to get the box of rice cereal
and starch cereal. We actually can feed anything but a grain. So, lots of vegetables, fruits, meats, and
fats. Jordan: Lots of fats. Fat head, fat body doesn’t make you fat. Dr. Levitt: Fat brain development third trimester
all the way up until age two is a really crucial period for brain development and fat. Jordan: So, we’re talking about avoiding obesity,
but you’re saying more fats leads to less obesity. I know we at Ancient Medicine Today talk about
this all the time, but can you give the moms out there a little assurance that a high fat
diet for a toddler and a child is absolutely great for body and brain? Dr. Levitt: Absolutely great. So, every cell in the body needs fat to function,
especially the brain and the brain that’s developing. That’s not what inhibits the problems of the
fat if it’s a healthy fat. It’s the sugar in products, so the grains
and the pops and the Cheerio’s and all the special things in the baby food aisle. The sugar is what’s making our children fat,
not the fat. Jordan: Absolutely. And obviously when you combine fat and sugar
in something like an ice cream, it can cause us to crave, but you and I were talking off
the air about various dietary strategies. I told you that for a period of time, myself
and one of my colleagues and my son were doing I would call it a keto-adaptive diet with
intermittent fasting. What was crazy is we would eat at one point
for two hours a day very low carbohydrate high fat and we would gear up and get excited
about our meal because when you’re not eating all day, you’re thinking about it, planning
it. We would stop eating midway through. Here’s the deal folks. You can’t OD on salmon and broccoli. Try it. You just can’t because it’s not stimulatory. So, when your kids start eating those foods
. . . we talked about avocado, we talked about bone broth, a chicken soup that’s got a lot
of fat if you do it the right way. We talked about consuming egg yolk, etc. These are very brain-nourishing foods and
they feed you because your head or your brain tells you you’re full. You want to intervene early. Here’s the other thing I like about doing
this. This is when you control their diet because
as soon as preschool starts, some preschools today won’t let you send food, then the rest
is sort of in other people’s hands because if you’re two working parents and your kids
are in school, you’re not controlling as much of their diet as you would like. So, get so into your children’s health very
early, intervene early. So, here’s one. We’re talking about ending the childhood obesity
epidemic and you say no dieting. What do you mean by that? Dr. Levitt: So, kind of what you alluded to
earlier with the obesity stigmata, focusing on weight or always being on a diet, typically
these families, we’ll hear the parent saying, “I’m on a diet or this diet or that diet or
I’m always on a diet.” We don’t want our kids hearing that because
then they just set up for they’re overweight. They need to be on a diet. We want them to be focused on healthy foods,
real food, and growth. So, no dieting. We don’t use the word dieting. I don’t like the parents to use the word dieting. Be very careful not to use it. We’re not putting your child on a diet if
they need to lose weight. We’re actually just putting them on real food. Jordan: Okay. And that sounds good. When I was a kid, my parents were health nut
hippies in the ’70s and we used to go to birthday parties and I don’t know what the deal was
with the food back then. You may have sort of just been introduced
to some of that. I’m not sure how you were raised. I would go to a birthday party and my mom
would bake me this cake and it would literally rise one inch. It was like this flat, hard disgusting thing,
sorry, Mom. The holidays would come by. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a carob Santa
Clause, but don’t. It was awful. It made you glad that Christmas only came
once a year. My school lunch was humiliating because you’d
get to school and everybody’s trading and I open my 17-grain bread with soy-based bologna
and there was something called Fakin’ Bacon, which was like everything was soy and then
this creamy white substance that was tofu’s evil cousin. I didn’t even bother. No trade. It was a no trade clause with my lunch. Today it’s so different. Dr. Levitt: Right. Jordan: There are amazing health foods. Yesterday for a treat, I bought this organic
probiotic-infused popcorn and I brought it home and then here at the Dr. Axe offices
people taunt us with something called paleo donuts. These are donuts made with coconut flour and
almond flour. Someone asked me, “When was the last time
you had a donut?” Well, you guys brought paleo donuts to work
yesterday. But truthfully, they meant when did I have
a regular donut and I had to think back to college for Krispy Kremes to try to keep me
up late for a test, which made me fall asleep. But dieting can be a bad word. I get it. When somebody goes out and says, “I’m on a
diet,” I get that that’s a challenge. But eating real food has never been better. There are delicious options. And pop culture has embraced eating health
food. In fact, the athletes and the entertainers
that our kids sort of look up to, a lot of them are eating organic real food. It’s so much easier today. So, no excuses. We went to church this weekend and we brought
our snacks for our kids and there’s all this discussion of, “Well, is it allergen-free? Is it gluten-free?” They’re already asking those questions. We don’t want to diet. We want to infuse our children’s eating with
real foods. Remember, food is medicine here at draxe.com. Dr. Levitt: Dieting implies restriction, right? Jordan: Absolutely. Dr. Levitt: When kids feel restricted then
they want to overindulge every chance they get. Jordan: That’s what I get. As soon as I get out of the house, those Mickey
Mouse ice creams where the ears were chocolate and the face was vanilla, anyway. Role model, you’ve said this a few times on
some of the programs we’ve recorded, but why is it important for the parent to model what
they want to see from their kids in the eating and living area? Dr. Levitt: We want our kids to see us choosing
healthy foods and eating healthy foods. We want to be a positive role model. We want them to see us exercising. We want them to see us happy and positive
with our body image, not always constantly cutting ourselves down. Those things all get transmitted to the kids. Also negative role modeling, say you’ve put
the food on the table and it’s broccoli and the dad goes, “I hate broccoli.” Then the kid goes, “I hate broccoli.” So, negative role modeling also plays a huge
role even if you don’t like those foods, you just need to role model that we want the kids
to try those foods. That’s really important. Jordan: Yeah. There are many a night where my wife, Nikki,
wants to spank some kids and me because I like to, “I don’t want to eat asparagus.” But it’s absolutely true. Sometimes you just have to suck it up as a
parent because your kids’ health is that important. We’ve had some generations where for the first
time in history, we are not outliving our parents. That can change. I’m seeing it change. You’ve got to be a positive role model. Don’t expect your kids to do what you say. They do what you do. Very important. Number six, protect the home. What are some steps we can take to safeguard
our home? We only have them there for so long during
the day, during the week. We only have them for so long in their life. What can we do to protect our home and make
it a healthy place to live? Dr. Levitt: I talk to families about setting
up the home where this is the only area you can control. We get caught up with school lunches and this
is what’s happening at the other kids’ house. Only worry about protecting your home. It’s the only thing you can control and you
can have really big success just by doing that. I link the growth curve, the green and red
zones with food. I explain to keep your body in the green healthy
zone, these are the foods we want to eat, green foods, I go over the real foods. Then I talk about the red zone foods, which
keep your body in the red zones. Those are the things like processed packaged
foods and the junk. I tell the family only stock your home with
green zone foods. Therefore, no one can get it. So, if the child doesn’t like asparagus at
dinner, they can’t pull out some Goldfish Crackers out of the cupboard because they’re
hungry later. You have to protect the home. Do not keep any kind of red zone foods in
the house. I also tell parents it’s not like the child
can never have the junk food or the processed food or whatever it is. I say you just choose a couple times a week
to go out and get the food, enjoy it. Eat it while you’re out, but do not bring
it into the house. Therefore we avoid the restriction-type mentality. We’re empowering them to keep the green food
in the house, but they still get to enjoy some of these treats. Jordan: Kids don’t get any ideas. It’s good all the time, in and out, we rule
that place with an iron fist. Dr. Levitt: Obviously we want to get them
like empowered to choose things when they’re out of the home, but that’s my number one
thing, protecting the home. You will have 100% success if you protect
the home. Jordan: Control that environment. Dr. Levitt: Of what you can control. Jordan: Absolutely. Dr. Levitt: There’s where you want to empower
people and there’s where they’re going to win. Jordan: It’s much like a team. You practice how you play so you practice
and prepare for the game of life. I’ll add something to this. I really think as the Bible says in Proverbs
22:6, “Train a child in the way they should go and when they’re older, they will not depart
from it.” It doesn’t say they won’t depart from that
in between. When I was a kid, my parents told me or made
me eat and not eat certain things, but I didn’t own it. My kids are owning it. They are evangelical about it. We tell them to be respectful when they’re
at a friend’s house, etc. But we really teach them and they do not want
to harm their body. They’ve sort of associated eating junk food
with health and life. They also want to please their parents to
an extent. They know that they’re special and set apart. Make sure to train your kids. Some people say, “That’s so unfair.” The grandparents, “That’s so unfair. You need to let them go out and enjoy themselves.” We have frozen desserts. There’s organic ice cream. We can make organic ice cream. We have smoothies. Last night my daughter baked cookies. My nine-year old baked cookies. She has a jewelry business that she calls
Sweet Jewelry, visit www . . . actually, that’s not a website. So, she baked cookies and she was so excited. So, I think she used organic spelt flour,
coconut sugar. She was so proud for Dad to taste her cookie. So, we enjoy our food tremendously. We eat an omnivorous diet. We eat meat. We eat vegetables. But I promise you, my kids eat better than
almost anyone and that goes for taste as well. We still protect our home. Our kids know what’s there. They know what will never be there and they
embrace what they get to eat and certainly, there are some things I encourage them to
eat that they don’t love the taste of, but we’re always looking at getting a good balance. For me, something as simple as I teach my
kids, it’s how I eat. I always eat on my plate what I like the least. I don’t love the taste of broccoli, but I
do eat it regularly. I always eat what I know is best for me and
what I like the least first. My kids . . . kids automatically do the opposite. They will sit down and eat dessert if it’s
front of them and eat the healthy things last. Dr. Levitt: Absolutely. Yeah. Jordan: My kids are starting to pick up on
that because they realize, “Let’s get the asparagus out of the way. Those Brussels sprouts, which are pretty good
usually, let’s just do that.” So, that’s really important because what happens? They’re full and what are they left? All the good stuff. Protect your home. This is a good one. Dr. Levitt: Here’s a good one on protecting
the home that’s important. You mentioned owning it. This is really important. When you protect the home and the child is
only eating healthy green zone foods, their body starts feeling different and they can
recognize they feel good. Then when they’re outside the home and they
have a red zone food, they start feeling like their stomach hurts. We want them to start noticing that awareness
instead of us telling them this food is good, we want them to actually feel the difference. They can’t feel the difference if they’re
getting all those foods in the home too. So, they will feel better and they will have
less headaches and mood swings and stomach issues when they’re eating those good foods. When they go out and have a pop or a Pop Tart
at their friend’s house and they’re like, “My stomach hurts,” we want them to make that
connection. Jordan: There you go. Dr. Levitt: As soon as they make that connection,
they will own it. It will be so much easier. Jordan: Absolutely. It makes sense. Okay. Rethink your drink. So, we have America’s favorite beverage or
one of them, good old orange juice, which you say is not so good. It may be old, but it’s not good. Why is juice not good and why do people need
to rethink what they drink? Dr. Levitt: So, that’s the number one intervention
I do when we do have to start intervening. The reason why is because sugar in liquid
form is extremely damaging to the body. So, whether it’s 100% juice or pop, they actually
have pretty similar amounts of sugar and sugar in liquid form shoots right into the bloodstream
and causes many problems. Jordan: Okay. Just to be clear, pop or soda is not good
for you. Dr. Levitt: Correct. Jordan: Juice, while slightly better than
soda, being you do vitamin C in orange juice. You don’t have some of the acids in soda that
can corrode your body and pull nutrients from your bones, its still a lot of sugar. Check your orange juice container and see
how much sugar or how many sugars are in that eight-ounce serving. It’s staggering. It’s in the 30s of grams. You know what’s interesting? Carrot juice is the same. So, here’s my rule. If we get orange juice or grapefruit, it’s
freshly squeezed and I like to do about one-fourth a cup of juice and three-quarters of water. We’ll let our kids have juice occasionally
but I’d much rather eat the real fruit and I usually make sure that my kids get fruits
with fats because fat and fiber will slow down the sugar, but that sugar, there are
kids that go out there drinking six, seven, eight glasses of juice a day. I did that when I was a kid. It sets you up for a blood sugar and brain
rollercoaster. In fact, it’s an interesting story. Thinking back about my diet when I was younger,
I charted at one point my grades in school with the time of the class. So, get this . . . my breakfast was usually
cereal and some kind of imitation milk, soy milk or whatever because my parents were into
health. Sorry, mom and dad, deal with it, it’s the
truth. I love you. But we didn’t eat the way I would recommend
eating today. Then for lunch, I would have whole wheat bagels
with cream cheese, mostly carbohydrate, a juice box. So, every class I had before lunch, I had
my best grades and best behavior. But after eating the sandwiches, which were
at most peanut butter, but usually, all carbs converting to sugar, juice box, chips, cookie,
etc. every class I had after lunch, I fought falling asleep, had my worst grades and my
worst behavior. That’s what’s happening to us. We are setting our kids up for absolute failure
and a big part of it is in our drinks. We don’t think about how many grams of sugar
we get in our beverages. Dr. Levitt: Right. Jordan: So, rethink your drink. What are some good drinks for kids? Dr. Levitt: So, water. Number one, water. So, it’s just like this myth that kids needs
these other things. Water is first. If you want to have some flavor to your water,
infuse it with some fresh fruit or frozen fruit to make it naturally flavored, but really
I’m adamant about they don’t need anything else. Jordan: Smoothies can be good. Dr. Levitt: Smoothies are great. Jordan: We do smoothies. Dr. Levitt: We’ll talk about smoothies at
breakfast. Jordan: If you do a coconut milk or almond
milk, they typically have a better balance. They’ve got some fats in there. My kids drink kombucha occasionally. I like the kind with the chia seeds in it. They’re getting fiber, fat and much lower
amounts of sugar. Fermented beverages can be good if your kids
like soda. There are so many fermented beverages. Some of them use stevia or monk fruit and
you can get a soda-like taste with about 6 grams of sugar. I’m not a huge fan of carbonation in general,
but there are carbonated sodas that have no sugar nor artificial sweeteners at your local
health food stories. Zevia is a brand, for example. I wouldn’t use it as a bedrock of your diet,
but you’re not going to have the same issues as consuming juice. This is huge. That looks good, actually. People don’t appreciate the fact that we still
like to eat these things even though we know they’re bad. The other day I was seeing . . . I saw a bakery
and they had a cronut, like a croissant donut combo. We’re people too. If you poke us, we bleed, red stuff comes
out. So, stop eating dessert for breakfast. It’s so true. Why in the world do we think when our kids
plop down to watch TV that they’re bombarded with these advertisements. Back when we were kids, what kind of cereal? They were all based on these characters. I have to look at one of those boxes, but
what in the world were we eating and what are we feeding our kids. I don’t care if the cereal is magically delicious
because it’s very unhealthy. Dr. Levitt: Right. So, the drink and the desserts go kind of
hand in hand. It’s sugar, basically is the concern. But remember, when we’re intervening for weight
loss, we’re dealing with kids who are already an unhealthy weight who also have some unhealthy
hormone imbalances and unhealthy signals for wanting sweet and wanting cravings. So, we sometimes can’t even offer just like
an alternative because we need to break that cycle of constantly wanting sugar, constantly
craving things. So, a sugar-ridden breakfast, typical breakfast
cereal is filled with grains that have their own set of problems, sprayed with chemicals,
loaded with sugar and then after that, there are three or four different types of sugar
as ingredients and then bad fats and unhealthy oils. So, the biggest problem though at breakfast,
it’s spiking up our blood sugar and then gives you that instant high. You feel great, hits the addiction center
of the brain, releases feel good hormones. Then insulin kicks in to take care of the
blood sugar, crashes the blood sugar down and then your kid feels tired, moody, hungry,
irritable about two hours into school when they start having behavior problems and they
can’t pay attention. Jordan: And what do they reach for? The vending machine. Dr. Levitt: Yeah, more sugary type things
that make them feel better, but then also they’re getting labeled with ADHD and typical
things that maybe they don’t even that problem. It’s just because they’re getting a sugar
high and crash cycle constantly. Jordan: When you go to a hotel or when we
stay somewhere, they talk about this continental breakfast. I don’t know what continent it’s from, but
that is the worst because you’ve got cereal, skim milk. People have different opinions on dairy. I think there is a good form of dairy, preferably
raw cultured grass-fed, but without the fat, you’re in the same boat because you’ve got
12 grams of lactose or sugar in your milk, so you’re getting about a 50-gram shot of
sugar in your cereal and milk. Then banana, banana is good, but it’s another
27 grams of carbs, 20-something grams of sugar. Orange juice. So, you’re literally consuming at times 100
grams of sugar, which is 20 to 25 teaspoons of sugar. That would be this much sugar. Dr. Levitt: Right. Jordan: Who would drink that for breakfast? I know that it looks so great to have these
toaster strudels and muffins. Blueberry muffin probably has 40 grams of
sugar in it, those real yummy ones that used to come from the big box store. I ate some of this stuff too. It’s awful. What is a healthy breakfast that satisfies
kids, moms can make and doesn’t set up this spiral of degeneration? Dr. Levitt: So, I usually try shoot for a
breakfast that has protein, fiber, and fat, all three in the same breakfast. One of the easiest ways and I start a lot
of my patients on this right away, it helps with getting off the sugary drinks and tackling
the breakfast, and that’s making a green smoothie. What you do is mix any kind of water or coconut
water, liquid of choice, unsweetened almond milk, something like that and greens, blend
those and then add a fruit, which the greens will give fiber, the fruit will give fiber
and a little bit of energy and then a protein source and healthy fat. So, you mix all those together and you have
protein, fiber, fat in a quick meal. I actually suggested to families to get your
spinach and all your greens and put them in separate greens and put them in the freezer. Have your fruit separated, all your protein
separated. You can actually make the smoothie the night
before and then re-blend or just quickly whip it up in the morning before they leave. It takes 60 seconds. Jordan: You don’t even taste the greens. Dr. Levitt: You do not taste the greens. It is crazy. Yeah. Jordan: You can get two cups of greens. You can do a cup of spinach. You can do a cup of kale. So, I’ve done this in the past, kale and spinach. Blueberries are a great fruit because it also
changes the color from green to more of a purple-green. Even if you did add fruit juice, such as a
raw juice, we’ve done some raw apple juice, etc., pineapple juice, you’re still going
to have some fat and fiber in there. I like the idea of coconut water. It’s a little bit lower in sugar, really yummy. We sometimes will buy those frozen acai packets
and throw that in there, but that’s a very sweet smoothie that is more on the light side. But we also make smoothies that are high in
protein using coconut milk, almond milk. I know I would get the, “Yuck, I would never
eat that,” but I do raw eggs and I’ve done raw, pasteurized organic eggs myself. Dr. Levitt: I was just telling my son that
the other day. Jordan: For 20+ years and my kids do it. What a powerful brain food. In fact, eggs are great for the brain and
great for the eyes with lutein. They’re great for the heart. You don’t have to do that. You can, perhaps, add a tablespoon of coconut
oil, flaxseed oil. We’ll add some fruit, add a little honey. There’s something called tiger nut that I
really like that is a flour which is high in prebiotic starch. So, morning smoothies are absolutely awesome. They allow you to get off to a great start. It also helps with protecting your home and
they’re still getting something sweet. So, stop eating dessert for breakfast. I’m Jordan Rubin here on Ancient Medicine
Today with Dr. Michelle Levitt who is a specialist in pediatric obesity, children’s health, preventing
your child from being overweight or obese and today we’re talking about weight loss
for kids, ending the childhood obesity epidemic. So, here’s a good one. That kind of looks yummy, like what we’re
talking about. Number nine, get out of the box. What do you mean by that? Dr. Levitt: So, now we’re moving into maybe
we’ve fixed our breakfast and now we need to work on our lunch, dinner and snacks and
we want to try not to eat our food out of a box. So, grab a box of pasta, throw it with some
sauce and have some bread with it. Out of a box or a bag or a package, try to
eat real whole foods. I usually try to have you set up your plate
for success. What I do is take your round plate or if your
plates are square, three-fourths of the plate should be vegetables. They can be raw or cooked, best to have a
mixture of both. So, you might have a big salad on half your
plate and another serving of vegetables. Jordan: We can spread the leaves out really
big so that it covers . . . Dr. Levitt: Try to load up on fiber from the
vegetables and then about the palm of your hand size of protein. If you’re using your palm, everyone has the
right portion size for your size. Then a small portion of the plate after you’ve
put the greens and palm size of protein could be fruit or starch. Now, I definitely have kids eat their vegetables
first and then their meat and then their fruit or starch last. Again, they’re filled up with the fiber from
the vegetables, satisfied from the protein and also fat goes in there liberally. Fat, cook your meat in fat. Make your own salad dressings and put it on
your raw salads. Put your broccoli with some grass-fed butter. Get lots of healthy fats in there and then
eating the starch or fruit last, they may not even want it or take a few bites. They’ll be satisfied and self-regulate their
own hunger and fullness. Jordan: Absolutely. Now, restaurants and other places where you’re
served food, they know what Dr. Levitt is saying, but they do it in reverse. I believe when you get bread before a meal,
think about what’s happening. We ought to do a study. People who eat a roll or bread before a meal,
what percentage of them order dessert. Think about it. You’re literally setting in motion of a rollercoaster
of insulin and blood sugar. We want to stop cravings where they start. Eat something high in fiber, something high
in protein and fat and maybe eat your fruit or your starch. Last night we had some yummy food and we had
roasted chicken, we had pasta made from butternut squash. Now you can get pastas from zucchini, butternut
squash, beats, sweet potatoes. We had a lot of grass-fed butter in there
with it. We also had a sweet potato. We had a salad. We had, I believe . . . I think we had some
corn, which we eat occasionally and it was very filling. I love . . . my favorite part of the chicken
is the skin. So, now you can label me as weird because
I eat eggs and chicken skin but chicken skin is loaded with nutrients. That’s for another show. That’s the kind of meals we eat. We make sure we get vegetables, even if they’re
starchy, we want to make sure to have some high-fiber, high-nutrient foods and we almost
always add oil or butter to the meal because fat is your friend, not your enemy. So, get out of the box. Eat real food. Someone said it once, eat only what will spoil,
but before it does. Dr. Levitt: Perfect. Jordan: It’s a good saying. Dr. Levitt: This step is very important for
protecting the home as well. The big kickback we get is, “I don’t like
vegetables. My kids don’t like vegetables. They won’t eat the vegetables.” I say, “Kids eat what you serve them and kids
eat when they’re hungry.” If you’re serving three-quarters of the plate
vegetables, protein, fat and they just eat the starch and they’re still hungry, guess
what? That’s all they get. Jordan: And then they’re going to have cravings. Dr. Levitt: So, if you protect the homes,
you don’t have other things they can eat later. You put that plate aside, if they’re still
hungry, they can eat the plate of food they didn’t eat. But I always have you do the broccoli test
with a family. If they eat some food and they’re like, “I’m
still hungry,” then you say, “Well, you can have some broccoli,” or another vegetable. Jordan: You’d be amazed how quickly they’re
not hungry. Dr. Levitt: They’re not hungry anymore. That’s a huge test you can do with your kids,
the broccoli test. They may or may not have eaten their whole
meal. But basically you say if you want more helpings,
have some more vegetable and if they don’t want it, they’re not really that hungry. Jordan: Absolutely. Dr. Levitt: Kids will eat when they’re hungry
and if they don’t eat, they’re not going to starve. I promise you, they will not starve. Jordan: Yes. Even though they say they’re starving and
I always tell them not to. Dr. Levitt: I believe honestly we’re starving
our kids and slowly killing them at the same time with processed foods. Jordan: Yes, with lots of foods. Dr. Levitt: We are starving our kids with
processed foods. Jordan: All right. Speaking of which, snack attacks. So, this could go a lot of different ways. That’s yummy. Again, we like this stuff. So, what do we do to make snacks healthier? Dr. Levitt: So, usually with snacks I try
to focus on healthy fats because they’re really satisfying and they make you feel full and
they just kind of our more satisfying than having a vegetable as a snack. So, I’ll usually have families setup, like
have a vegetable with a fat, like celery with nut butter. Jordan: My kids think it’s made for nut butter. Dr. Levitt: Or like hummus and carrots or
fruit and some almond butter or fruit and a handful of nuts. Jordan: Or butter on your popcorn, real butter
because it will actually satisfy you. Dr. Levitt: Non-GMO popcorn. Jordan: Yes. Dr. Levitt: So, one I kind of think, do our
kids really need snacks? One of my schools of thought is if you’re
eating a balanced meal, that’s protein, fiber and fat, they really should be able to go
to the next meal without eating. But if we do want to have a snack or they
really are hungry, we want to provide healthy things. Again, protecting the home. I’ll have you get the little baby mason jars
and put the nut butter and the celery already in the jars or carrots and humus. Jordan: Trail mix is another one. Dr. Levitt: Yeah, trail mix is a great one. If you make it in advance, put it in little
zip-locks, it’s ready for them. So, if they do grab something, it’s completely
healthy. Jordan: And bake with your kids. My kids love when they make something themselves. There are a lot of ways to bake now with higher
fiber flours. What I do typically is sneak some chia seed
or flax seed in there to get extra fiber, put some good oils in there. There are amazing ways to do that. If you go to draxe.com and even on the Dr.
Axe Facebook page, you will see hundreds of recipes for smoothies, for snacks, that are
not only free of junk, they are actually amazing for you. All right. Number 11, unplug and move. This is probably self-explanatory, but we
are hopelessly under-exercising today and it starts at a young age. Dr. Levitt: Absolutely. Yeah. Jordan: What are some guidelines for us to
get our kids up and moving? Dr. Levitt: So, definitely unplugging will
help. So, sometimes depending on the age of the
kid, you’ll have to really regulate. If it’s a teenager, you’ll be like, “I’m taking
your phone. Get outside.” Same thing with school-age kids. Turn off the TV, unplug all the stuff, get
them outside. Literally unplug and disengage. You might have to do that for the child just
to get them to move more. But another way is actually to move more with
your kids. So, getting outside with them instead of telling
them to do it, actually do it with them and definitely regulating the screens. So, when they’re sitting watching the screen,
they’re getting more tired. They’re unmotivated to move more. The screen time is the first thing that will
help move more and then really basically just setting up your environment for moving. So, getting them outside, maybe you might
have an active video game in the house, again, regulated. But definitely, you have to be intentional
with it. Jordan: And really, the goal is 60 minutes
a day. Dr. Levitt: The goal is 60 minutes a day. I tell the families it does not have to be
all at one time. You don’t have to carve out like a full hour. You usually say, “I can’t do an hour, so I
just won’t do it.” But really, 10 to 15-minute increments has
been shown to be very effective and it’s cumulative. You might say, “Go out and jump on the trampoline
for ten minutes. Come back in. We’ll all play Wii as a family for 15 minutes. We’ll all go out for a bike ride.” It’s easier to get exercise in than you think. It doesn’t have to be this intentional like
hardcore exercising. Just move more, even just like parking far
away at the grocery store and walking a little farther. Jordan: I just never do that intentionally,
the parking far away because there’s never enough time. But I do use the term. I tell people to do it and then I don’t do
it. Then I won’t know where the car is. You mentioned a trampoline. That is one of the best ways to exercise for
kids and adults. It’s good for the gut, the lymphatic system
and kids love to jump. Get them to jump. Get a trampoline. They’re very inexpensive at most sort of sporting
goods stores, etc. All right. So, I am here on Ancient Medicine Today with
Dr. Michelle Levitt who is an expert in childhood obesity. She’s a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital,
specializing in sports medicine and healthy weight. We talked about weight loss for kids, ending
the childhood epidemic. You need to become aware. You said the statistics, two-thirds of adults
are overweight, one-third obese. Here’s a big one. One-third of kids are overweight, 17% are
obese. That is absolutely mindboggling. We also talked about how you categorize, green,
which is they’re in the good zone, yellow, they need some work or if they’re in the red
zone, they’re headed potentially for adult illnesses, even at a younger age. You want to prevent the first thousand days,
I love this, prenatal, infant time and then transitioning into a toddler. Make sure the mom-to-be eats well, the baby
is fed properly and then the complementary foods are spot on. Intervene early, you want to start young,
modeling it for them and teaching them, speaking of which, no dieting. You don’t talk about kids being on a diet. You talk about them eating a real food lifestyle. I’m just making sure I got this all right. Role model, stop eating junk food. You need to do what you want the kids to do. Practice what you preach and only preach what
you practice. Dads, I’m talking to you also. Protect the home. That’s a sanctuary. Feed them well in the home. Don’t have junk in the trunk, if you know
what I mean or you might end up with junk in the trunk. When you protect the home, the idea is they
feel safe, they also feel better and they notice when they eat things that are unhealthy
out of the home, they come to you and say, “Man, I’m not feeling so good,” or, “Mom or
dad, I’m not feeling so good.” Rethink your drink, no juice, no soda, go
for lower sugar beverages. Water is number one. Flavor it with fruit, lemon, lime. You could infuse it with some berries. That’s really easy and good, taking water
and putting raspberries in it. Dr. Levitt: Yeah. Throwing in four berries. Jordan: It tastes so good. Also you can do almond milk, healthy dairy
if you’re feeding your children dairy, especially grass-fed, raw, etc. Stop eating dessert for breakfast. Don’t be fixated on what we call breakfast
foods, Toaster Strudels, muffins, orange juice, bananas and cereal will lead to issues. A hundred grams of sugar for breakfast is
common. Get out of the box. Eat real food, not what comes from a box. The snack attack, feed them well so they don’t
want to snack, but when they do, fortify your snacks with fats. We talked about nuts and trail mixes and nut
butters and on your celery and smoothies, etc. Make sure your kids get fat and fiber when
they snack because that will slow down their appetite and their sugar absorption. Last but not least, unplug and move. Get rid of the screen. Get out of the house. Do something active. We aim for 60 minutes a day. How’d I do? Dr. Levitt: Perfect. Jordan: I even pronounced the . . .
Dr. Levitt: Fantastic. Jordan: Akron Children’s Hospital correctly. Folks, if you’re someone who’s watching and
you love this information, make sure to click that Like button, but also punch that Share
button because we want this information to get out there. We believe together we can end the obesity
epidemic in children and begin to have a healthy nation. It starts with our kids. Dr. Michelle Levitt is here to help you. So, if you visit drmichellemd.com, you will
get information on her programs. So, you not only see patients at Akron Children’s
Hospital, but you also do wellness coaching virtually or in person if they’re in the Northeastern
Ohio area. I’m getting this right. See, it’s because I ate my fats and I didn’t
have dessert for breakfast, although some of those slides look pretty good. So, Dr. Michelle Levitt is passionate about
your family’s health, your kids’ health. You know what I’ve seen? When a child has a health issue and they begin
to address it, then miraculously the parents eat better, they get better. Dad loses some weight. I’m picking on dads, I’m allowed to because
I am one. It’s amazing how that can be a catalyst for
the entire family’s health. Children are our future. Dr. Michelle Levitt and we at Ancient Medicine
Today and the Dr. Axe team are passionate about your health, so share this video, this
information. Visit drmichellemd.com and go to draxe.com
or our Facebook page or our Instagram so that you can learn about some of the healthiest
recipes, foods, beverages, desserts that can transform your health. I’m Jordan Rubin here with Dr. Michelle Levitt,
Ancient Medicine Today. See you next time.

18 Replies to “Weight Loss for Kids: Ending the Childhood Obesity Epidemic with Dr. Michelle Levitt”

  1. I have two kids, 8 and 10. They pretty much eat the same thing. One gains weight very easily. Need help determining if there are underlying factors other than what he is eating. Body type, etc…

  2. I have been trying to lose the extra pounds and it has not been an easy process. weight loss green store tea was of immense help. It is diminishing my hunger and lower the level of blood sugar. Will continue to use it.

  3. Out of my 4 kids one of them ( 16yrs old) was obese , He didnt eat much or snack much but what he ate was total rubbish outside of his home cooked dinners, I have been on a healthy lifestyle change becoming vegetarian and now vegan all in the past 6 months, In the past 2 months he decided himself just to change .. hallelujah it was nothing less than a miracle , Out went all the junk food ( he did research on all the junk food ) and in came just real food and exercise ( used to be a couch potato) In 2 months he has turned into a real slender fit boy and his mood has completely lifted .. there is hope for anyone out there he is a great inspiration 🙂

  4. Congrats DRAXE on Dr. Oz show, your energy and expertise lit up the room! Love the DRAXE channel. Great segments.

  5. I disagree. The passiveness does not get the point across. You said it yourself, they don't think it's a problem. There needs to be a dialogue using the term obese. My parents never understood because my doctors were passive, and now I have many health issues as an adult. Perhaps the parents would understand if the parents had an understanding and dialogue.

  6. Let the kids outside. There are too many laws. One mother had a Nosey Neighbor call the Cops cause the kids were out in the
    Cul-De-Sac riding their scooters and the Mom wasn't on top of them, but sitting on the porch. Yes, she was arrested for
    Endangerment.

    A good snack is Ants on a Log
    1 stalk of celery
    Peanut or other Nut Butter
    Raisins
    Spread the Peanut Butter on the celery and top with a few raisins.

  7. Junk food out of the house. I agree, 100 percent my children are slender, and it's not easy keeping them like that.? A man to the Bible verse

  8. This was a great message regarding helping kids prevent obesity. But what about the kids who are stuck already? I was one of those kids. 180lbs at age 11. Truth is we can encourage our children at home, but when they are with friends they want to indulge on what their friends eat. Dr. Josh I wish you would of included messages of healing from God. This is how I recovered from my horrific experience which lasted from age 9 to about 13. Temptation is real, struggle is real, depression is real. peer-pressure is real. The right & wrong Food is just a small part of the trap. I'd love to talk to you someday if you so choose to connect with me. God bless you for sharing your concerns!

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  10. We are a Whole Foods Market family. I never introduced my daughter to store bought packaged foods and sweets, juices, or sodas. I figured she would definitely get them outside of our home, thus, I did not buy them. Her favorite snack was olives. Any sweets she would get at home I baked them without using regular processed sugar and she loved them.

  11. Do natural popular lose weight methods like Fenoboci Diet Plan really work and if so, how effective are they? We've heard numerous awesome things about this popular fat burn methods.

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