Ask A Doc: Pediatric Nutrition and Fitness

Angela May, M.D. from North Ottawa Community Health System’s pediatric office answers your questions about pediatric nutrition and fitness.

How is pediatric nutrition different than adult nutrition?

Adult nutrition should provide daily energy and help maintain good body composition. Since kids are still growing, it’s even more important that they get the right balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in their diet to form healthy bones, joints, eyes, muscles and nervous system.

Why is it important for kids to maintain a healthy weight while growing?

If a child learns behaviors that lead to excess weight, he or she will be more likely to struggle with weight control as an adult.  Excess weight can also cause early onset of diseases like childhood diabetes.  We know that maintaining a healthy weight depends on what goes into the body, and the amount of exercise that someone gets.  A child who learns good habits around eating and exercise will be more capable of maintaining healthy habits as an adult.

What’s one thing a busy family can do to improve their nutrition?

Start with evaluating your habits.  For example, look at how many times your family eats fast food in a month, or how many snacks your child eats between meals in a week.  Do your meals come from the outside edge of the grocery store, or do they come primarily from boxes, bags and cans?  If you identify a challenge area, then try to make one replacement in that area each week.  For example, if you eat a lot of fast food because it’s convenient while you’re driving kids around, look at making one hand-held meal to bring in the car each week.  Websites like are a great place to find easy recipes and ideas. If you like to watch videos, go to for ideas on nutritious portable snacks and easy meals.

How can we incorporate more exercise into our family activities?

It can be a challenge to find exercises for the whole family.  Fortunately, the Internet offers a lot of great resources!  You can find exercise videos that are designed specifically for adults and kids to do together.  (ex: search Kids Circuit Workout by Workout Hotel on YouTube.) Just hit play on your phone, tablet or laptop, and you’ll have something quick and fun to do.  Pick one day each week and spend 30 minutes exercising (and laughing) together.





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