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Getting Nature in the Diet

by |  October 8th, 2013

Kids in ForestAbout ten years ago a new type of deficiency was uncovered related to children and the outdoors, Nature Deficit-Disorder. The idea is that lack of outside ‘unstructured play’ (not an organized sport) can harm kids’ physical and mental development.

As our urban areas boom (Austin’s a great example), we get farther and farther from nature. Trees, grass, parks are few and far in between. Between school, work, afterschool activities and homework, well, it’s simply not in the daily routine.

Although not an official disorder, there is some agreement among health professionals about the negative effects that lack of nature might cause…depression, obesity, lower grades in school to name a few.

Journalist Richard Louv and author of The Nature Principlediscussed Nature Deficit-Disorder with the National Geographic magazine team this summer. “I think the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need as a balancing agent,” said Louv.

What can we do? The recommendation is simple…turn off the gadgets and spend some time enjoying nature. A walk along Town Lake, a hike on the Greenbelt, day at Zilker Park or swim at Barton Springs can do wonders.

411 Pediatrics


Dr. Ava Gallagher is a pediatrician and a mom. After growing up in Brownsville, she received her medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. She completed her pediatric residency at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. After residency, she entered academic medicine as an Assistant Professor at UTMB in Galveston. and joined 411 Pediatrics in the summer of 2013. Dr. Gallagher is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is a member of the Texas Medical Association. Her professional interests include obesity prevention, breastfeeding and nutrition.

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