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Top Docs: Profiles

Meet 11 of our 2007 Top Doctors.

October 2007

Dr. Barbara Gablehouse

Pediatrics
Peak Pediatrics, Lutheran— Practicing for 17 years

Colorado Statistic Long known as the fittest state, Colorado could lose that distinction as our kids grow up. The activity level of Colorado's children ranks 35th among states.

"It's a generalization to say that our kids are inactive. In the real world, we see amazing couch potatoes and we see kids who are incredibly active. I don't have a good explanation why we rank in the lower half in the nation for activity, but I do believe that the activity level of children is, in general, directly related to the activity level of their parents. If the parents' idea of leisure time is going to the movies or watching television, they'll very likely end up with kids who think, and behave, the same way. Conversely, if parents golf, play tennis, run, ride bikes, they'll likely raise kids who think that being physically active is a good way to spend time. A lot of families mistake 'busy' for 'active;' if they have scout meetings and they belong to a lot of committees, they're going here and there—they're busy, busy, busy. They're always on the go, but not necessarily physically active. When I was young, kids were sent out to play and not allowed to come back inside until dinner. We ran through the garden hose, rode our bikes, ran around. But I rarely hear about that sort of unstructured activity any more. I hear parents say they don't like having the kids outside because they 'can't keep an eye on them.' I understand parents wanting to keep their kids safe, but when they don't insist on daily activity, they're increasing the risk of obesity, which is just as dangerous."

Food for Thought "I've absolutely seen an increase in childhood obesity in my practice. And I've seen an increase in other problems related to obesity—hypertension, kids on blood pressure medications—things I never saw in the first 10 years of my practice. Do you know that we now have charts that monitor body-mass index for kids? They go all the way down to age two."

Best Advice "Live the healthy kind of life you want your child to live. Don't intend to be more active, don't mean to eat better—actually do it. Parents have to live and model the healthy life they want their kids to live."

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