As a physician, I have always prided myself on analyzing facts and statistics. But I also remember that when I was starting my practice in New York, I always appreciated the science but did not realize the importance of how my message was being received.
I was a bachelor doctor, writing scientific papers, lecturing, and taking care of high-risk pregnant women. When you take care of pregnancy issues, you are not only taking care of the patient, but also her partner and her immediate family. Having children is a life-changing event that can take you places you never imagined.
Then, one day, I got married. I had three beautiful children and yes, I got a little smarter. The interpretation of my message became more important to me than facts and figures. I wanted my patients to have what I had — beautiful children — and I became a better doctor.
Now my children are 10, 8, and 6 years old, I am middle-aged, and once again, I have fallen into the trap of looking at facts and statistics without understanding the result. For the past year I have been very vocal about the health risks of overweight children: statistics show that nearly 25 percent of children ages 3 to 5 are entering school overweight.
Then, yesterday, I visited a gym, run by a very prominent pediatrician, that specializes in helping overweight children. There are kid-friendly classes, stationary bikes that power the all-important video games, and nutritionists who help kids understand proper nutrition. Most important, the kids have fun doing it. The smiles on their faces were priceless. They were doing their best: exercising, running, and learning about nutrition. They were doers, not talkers.
When I got home, there were my kids, waiting for me, and happy to see their dad. As I kissed them good night I asked myself: "Am I a good role model when it comes to nutrition and fitness?" It's painful to admit — but the answer is no.
So I am maturing again, and I am pledging to be a better role model for healthy living for my children, because childhood obesity is the responsibility of all of us. The cure starts with parents; fit and healthy parents have fit and healthy kids.
Of course, it's easy to promise yourself that you're going to change. It's a lot harder to actually do it. That's why, in the next few weeks, I will be asking some of you to join me. We'll get down to basics with weigh-ins, interviews with nutritionists, and some simple exercises we can all do (full disclosure: I dread this!) Watch "FOX & Friends" every morning at 7:44 am ET for more details, and as always, I will write about it here.
In the meantime, please feel free to share your diet and exercise inspirations, and we'll post some of them here in the coming days!
P.S. Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to me at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell me what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.