(The Daily Dish) Dr. Liz Joy, Senior Medical Director, Wellness and Nutrition with Intermountain Healthcare joined Surae on The Daily Dish today to talk about the importance of The “pillars of lifestyle medicine” for kids and raising healthy children. She also reminded us about the importance of medical coverage and the options on how we can make sure we obtain it.

Below we have covered the “Pillars of lifestyle medicine:”

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that kids achieve 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity that includes aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, bone loading, and age-appropriate skills training.

Key nutritional recommendations are that kids are getting a variety of foods, with a focus on whole foods, and less processed foods. Dairy is an important source of calcium for bone health. Adolescence is a time of great bone mineral acquisition. In fact, by age 19, we have 95% of our adult bone density. 

It’s recommended that kids of all ages avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. There is NO redeeming value to sugar-sweetened soda.

Sleep is an underrated lifestyle behavior! Kids who get insufficient sleep are more likely to experience unhealthy weight gain, are more likely to struggle with depression, and have poorer academic performance.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours.
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant stress for kids of all ages, and especially for adolescents who are biologically driven to seek friendship and companionship with peers – and couldn’t due to school closures, and lack of after-school activities and school sports. 

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression and connecting kids with their primary care provider for assessment, treatment, and referral to mental health resources is important.

Substances: Thankfully, we are seeing an overall decline in substance use among youth in Utah

Environmental Health: In Utah, environmental concerns include our air pollution – largely particulate pollution in the winter months, and ozone and fire smoke in the summer – and sun/heat safety. Skin cancer rates in Utah are increasing, and much of that damage occurs in childhood! Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are a must for kids of all ages. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends waiting until the baby is 6 months old before introducing sunscreen. The best ways to keep infant’s sun safe are with shade and clothing.

Social Connectedness: This would include not only peer-to-peer relationships but also remaining connected as a family. Family meals are an important time to connect with kids. Drive time to and from school is an opportunity to learn what’s going on in their daily life at school. 

Kids these days are surgically connected to their phones, iPad, etc. Setting age-appropriate ground rules on screen time and access to content are both reasonable and important. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Age 2 and under: avoid media use (except video chatting).
  • Preschoolers: No more than one hour of high-quality programming per day.
  • Grade-schoolers/Teens: Don’t let media displace other important activities such as quality sleep, regular exercise, family meals, and “unplugged” downtime.
  • All ages: Be a media mentor. Co-view media with your kids.

In addition, parents should be making sure they have medical coverage. Summer brings a lot of activities and recreation that kids enjoy. It’s important to have them be outside and active. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries are unpredictable, especially with children!

One thing to remember also is that when children have health insurance, parents can have peace of mind knowing that they have access to medical care when the unexpected happens. Medicaid and CHIP offer Free or low-cost health insurance for kids and teens. It is comforting to know that these programs are available to help those who find themselves in challenging situations or economic hardship.

For more information or to apply, you can call (888) 222-2542 or you can apply online.


*Sponsored by The Utah Department of Health.