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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Many parents do their best to keep their children from dealing with stress, believe it or not, kids do get stressed out. That stress can be caused by bullying at school, the pressures of social media and even the pandemic.

With stress, comes weight gain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affected about 14 million children and teens in 2018. The SHINE clinic at Children’s of Alabama is designed to address that problem, one of Alabama’s most common health issues in kids.

SHINE stands for Support and Help in Nutrition and Exercise.

“We have this multiple disciplinary approach to helping our patients learn about ways to make healthy changes in their lives,” Jillian House, a Clinical Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian at Children’s of Alabama says they look at all aspects when it comes to assessing what’s causing weight gain.

Once that’s assessed, House says then they help them make healthy sustainable changes to their lives.
Across the board, House says the most common thing attributed to weight gain in kids is stress.

“How are we dealing with stress, are we drinking enough water, are we getting any exercise at all, how do our labs look, are we getting enough sleep,” House said.

While bullying and the pandemic can be big causes for stress, House says other issues, like social media trends and fad diets, contribute.

“It can really affect them and how they feel about their bodies and how they feel about food in general. I think the biggest thing we focus on here in the SHINE clinic is that we do not promote dieting,” House told News 19. “Just because you eat, doesn’t mean you can tell people how to eat. We’re all different and need different foods to nourish our bodies.”

But, if you are looking to social media for advice, House says to make sure it’s from a registered dietician.

Dieting in retrospect is a short-term solution. House says they tell their patients they want them to live a long healthy life and that starts with small sizeable goals that pay off in the long run.

“Now getting that good balance and creating those healthy sustainable changes, small changes that can last forever that we can continue to have with us for the rest of our lives, is really important,” House said.

House says lifestyle change is done one day at a time, so celebrate the wins, because tomorrow is a new day.