FACT #1: Childhood obesity is the fastest growing health crisis in the US affecting about 13.7 million children and adolescents.
FACT #2: Obese children have higher risks of chronic conditions such as Asthma, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol/lipids, Bone and Joint Problems, Sleep Apnea, Menstrual Abnormalities, Gallstones, Liver Disease and Back Pain, higher risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
FACT #3: Obese children also tend to have poor self-image and low self-esteem.
FACT #4: Obese children tend to be bullied by other children leading to social and emotional problems.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), small changes early in life can prevent a lifetime of complications from childhood obesity.
The Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center’s pediatricians and nutritionists will work with you as parents to help your children maintain and achieve a healthy weight.
1) EDUCATE: We must educate our children on proper nutrition. Drinking just one soda is equal to eating spoons of sugar!
2) GROCERY SHOPPING: Get your children involved in grocery shopping. Start with the fresh fruit and veggies aisle and ask for their help picking out items. Avoid the cookies, cakes and soda aisles and don’t buy those items to take home. If they aren’t in the house, the children won’t have access to them to snack on.
3) PLAN MEALS: Encourage your children to participate in healthy meal planning for the week and let them help in the kitchen. Ask them to choose the vegetable or fruit snack. Once they help plan, they are more likely to eat it.
4) Parents: BE A ROLE MODEL. You too will benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables.
5) FEWER VIDEO GAMES: Encourage your children to participate in activities that engage them in exercise, i.e. dance, karate, basketball, etc. Community Centers are a great place to find exercise options at no cost or very low cost. PE classes in school are not enough for our children – they need play time and physical activity after school and less time just sitting there playing video games or watching television.
6) BE ORGANIZED AND HAVE STRUCTURE IN THE HOME: Kids thrive better when there is organization and structure in the home. Eating together at the same time, having designated places for school bags and designated homework times and locations will help form good habits.
7) HAVE FUN: Healthy habits should be fun. Belittling them or talking negatively to your children doesn’t help so just don’t do it! Reward kids for making healthy choices. Initiate family challenges. For instance, my two oldest kids challenge each other as to who can do the most push ups.
There is no simple solution to the obesity epidemic. It’s a big problem and everyone needs to work together to help solve it. Policy makers, community leaders, schools, daycares, healthcare providers must all support the creation of health lifestyles for our children,
All the pediatricians at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center are committed to the fight against obesity and are there to help you. For more information on preventing obesity or knowing your child’s BMI (Body Mass Index), please make an appointment with one of our Board Certified Physicians today.
Veronica Wiltshire, MD, is a Board Certified practicing pediatrician serving as the Chief Medical Officer at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center. She is also a contributing columnist at The Wave.