Brenner FIT 5-4-3-2-1-0 Program - dummies

By Dan DeFigio

The health risks associated with childhood obesity are regularly discussed, but kids’ emotional risks are sometimes forgotten. Overweight children are often teased at school, on the playground, and even at home. They look different from other children and know it, but they can’t make the changes they need to make on their own.

The Brenner Children’s Hospital of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has instituted a program to help combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Families work with a team that includes a doctor, a family counselor, a dietitian, an exercise specialist, and a social worker, with the goal of helping the entire family change its lifestyle.

The program doesn’t put families on restrictive diets or ban all sweets, because losing weight shouldn’t be a punishment. The plan does adjust the family’s diet, implement regular physical activity, and teach the family how to plan a weekly menu and buy healthy foods on a tight budget.

The crux of the Brenner FIT (families in training) program is the 5-4-3-2-1-0 system. Even without a team of professionals to advise and assist you, you can apply the following tenets to your own family’s routine to reap the plan’s benefits:

    5    Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

    4    Eat together as a family at least four times a week.

    3    Eat three healthy meals a day — no skipping meals, especially breakfast.

    2    Limit screen time (computer, TV, and video games) to less than two hours a day.

    1    Aim for one hour of physical activity each day.

    0    Reduce the number of sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas and juice to zero.

Try gradually implementing these changes into your family’s lifestyle, and watch your waistlines shrink and your health skyrocket!