WA Dietetic Conference held in Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WA Dietetic Conference held in Yakima

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Dietitians from across the state met Monday in Yakima for the Annual Dietetic Association's Educational Conference.

Dr. Robert Murray, a national consultant on pediatric nutrition and childhood obesity, covered several topics, including the growing concerns over obesity and ways to combat it.

The 2011 conference was sponsored by the Washington State Dairy Council.

Dr. Murray talked about how parents need to encourage their kids with healthier eating habits, starting at the home, including drinking milk. For kids who might not favor the taste of milk, Murray suggested using flavored milk. "So, we've cut the calories, cut the saturated fats back, and at the same time given the kids what they're looking for, that's a good trade," explained Murray. "And I also think that's important to maintain in the schools. To keep that nutritional foundation under our kids."

Dietitian and Assistant Professor for Central Washington University, Susan Adams explains the importance of parents teaching healthy eating habits to their children at home. "A lot of times parents are really focused on the pregnancy stage and early infancy, but once the child begins to eat table foods, a parent has a tremendous influence on a child's food choices."

"Now over 32% of American children are considered overweight and 18% of children are obese," explained Dr. Murray. "The rate of increase in obesity is highest among the country's youngest children, under age 5 years." Murray puts part of the blame on the parents. "One-third of American adults are obese and over two-thirds are overweight. It is their habits that shape the child's environment."

According to the Washington State Department of Health's Chronic Disease Profiles by County for 2011, 31 percent of adults in Yakima County are obese. That's about up from the state average of 26 percent. DOH: http://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/diabetes/Section-3/section3-page2.htm.

The 2011 report shows Yakima County 10th graders are exhibiting some key signs that may lead to obesity. Almost three fourths of the students surveyed, say they do not eat enough fruits and vegetables; over half do not get enough physical activity; and 1 out 5 drinks soda two or more times a day, which is above the state average.