Everyday we hear news about the childhood obesity epidemic. First Lady Michelle Obama is "sounding the alarm" with her campaign "Let's Move" to help Americans understand that this is a real health problem for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 32 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese (25 million kids).
Is my child overweight or obese?
At your child's next regular physical exam, ask your doctor if she could assess your child's weight. The doctor will use a growth chart to make the assessment. If your child's weight is above normal, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan for your child.
What are the consequences of childhood overweight and obesity?
There are enormous health consequences that are associated with childhood obesity.
Here are just a few health complications overweight children are at increased risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Liver damage
In addition, there are psychological and emotional consequences. Frequently, children who are overweight have low self-esteem and a poor body image.
What can I do as a parent of an overweight child?
- Encourage your child to be active everyday for at least 60 minutes.
- Limit your child's TV and computer time. Discourage snacking during TV viewing.
- Keep only healthy low calorie snacks in the house.
- Use the 5-A-Day rule for fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage your child to drink water in-between meals vs. soda and juice drinks.
- Serve "healthy" meals that include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
- Let children self-regulate. Let them serve themselves and stop eating when they are full.
- Be a role model!
Visit USDA's MyPyramid website for tips on healthful eating: