Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

There are many reasons that we are seeing more overweight children than we used to. Portion sizes when eating out are larger, kids often get less exercise. More time is spent in front of the TV and computer. One out of five kids is now overweight, and they are at risk for being overweight adults. There is more risk if parents are also overweight, and if siblings are also. Some of it may be genetic, but a similar environment is a factor too. Parents should be supportive of overweight kids and try to be a good example. Increasing levels of exercise and watching family food choices can help. Pay attention to what food choices are offered at school and avoid upsizing fast food meals. Be aware of calories in sugared drinks, and use of food as rewards and punishment is not a good idea.

Recently Answered

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    AAnthony Gonzalez, MD, General Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida

    Weight-loss surgery is the answer when a patient has a BMI (body mass index) between 35 and 40, or about 75 pounds overweight and has an obesity-related disease, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea; or when a patient has a BMI greater than 40, or is at least 100 pounds overweight, with or without medical problems.

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    AAnthony Gonzalez, MD, General Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida

    Effective solutions to childhood obesity should include a supporting role and a healthier lifestyle for the entire family. Consider changing family routines to include more outdoor activities and a new menu. If you need help with meal planning, seek out a dietician or a nutritionist who can create healthy menus for family meals, school lunches and snacks.  A variety of nutritional planning programs are available at community events and from your doctor’s office. Consider visiting the website, We Can, a free national fitness program that offers an online meal-planning tool and family-friendly activities.

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    AAnthony Gonzalez, MD, General Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida

    Childhood obesity has grown by leaps and bounds.  In the U.S., about 17 percent of children, from toddlers to late teens, are obese – a stunning 300 percent increase in just two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That dramatic spike in childhood obesity has sparked concern in the medical community. That’s because obesity puts a child at greater risk for developing sleep apnea, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

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    APenn Medicine answered

    Studies have shown that overweight parents often have overweight children. The health risks associated with being overweight are passed down through generations.

    Some tips to help your children reduce their risk for becoming obese are exercising through play and sports, making meal time “family time” by enlisting the help of kids in the kitchen and filling meals with colorful vegetables and lean meats, stopping negative self-talk, being cognitive of what you say in front of your children, and making family time together active.

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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Should I try to embarrass my overweight children so they lose weight?

    Shaming overweight kids is never a good idea. Watch this video to learn why a group of doctors featured on The Dr. Oz Show believe making kids feel bad about their weight is more akin to bullying than tough love.

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    AHealthCorps answered

    If the initial diet you expose your child to is very high in grain carbohydrates and fats, then you may be setting your child up for a lifetime of struggle with obesity. A more varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy grains and proteins low in saturated fat, can be the key to a healthy weight and optimal weight gain milestones.

    Encouraging movement as soon as your child becomes mobile is also crucial to healthy growth patterns and avoiding weight issues. If a child who should be crawling is instead sitting in front of a TV for hours of viewing time, the outcome can easily be larger weight gains and an overall higher level of body fat by the time they are school age.

    When you begin to introduce finger foods to your baby, offer whole grain/high fiber cereals, but also consider serving edamame, small cubes of baked butternut squash and sweet potato, and very ripe, soft cubes of fruit, without the skin on.

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    AMichael Breus, PhD, Psychology, answered
    The results of a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association indicate that every additional hour of sleep young children receive can reduce their risk of being overweight. Researchers in New Zealand studied the sleep habits and weight changes of 244 children between the ages of 3 and 7. To investigate the relationship between sleep and weight, they measured the children’s height, weight, BMI, and body composition. They also tracked children’s sleep, physical activity, and diet at ages 3, 4, and 5. What did they find?
    • Kids who slept more between the ages of 3 and 5 had lower BMI at age 7 than their counterparts who slept less.
    • Kids who slept more between ages 3 and 5 were also less likely to be overweight at age 7 than their peers who slept less.
    • Because the researchers measured body composition (the body’s proportions of muscle, fat, and bone mass), they were able to determine that the lower BMI was due to less fat, not to an increase in muscle and bone mass.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Why Are So Many Kids Overweight or Obese?

    A slew of changes in our country over the past few decades have combined to produce a national weight problem. In this video, First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Dr. Oz about how parents can help their children get active and shed excess weight.


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    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one-third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Children and adolescents who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. This means they are at higher risk for adult health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    ARovenia Brock, PhD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    A problem associated with overweight and obese children is early-onset puberty. In recent years, the number of elementary-school girls who look like high-schoolers and middle-school girls who look like they attend the local college has grown. Pediatricians nationwide are seeing girls 5 to 10 years old with breasts and pubic hair in alarming numbers -- one out of seven white girls and an astonishing one out of every two African Americans. Though the reasons for this phenomenon are still being researched, experts see possible links to obesity, to the pesticides sprayed on fruits and veggies, and to hormones in beef and in cow's milk.

    The link to weight seems a strong one, although it is not yet well understood. We have known for a while that very overweight girls start maturing earlier than their thinner peers, and it now appears that mildly overweight girls may be experiencing this early maturation as well. Dr. Paul Kaplowitz, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, believes that the link between obesity and early maturation may be related to the hormone leptin. Since fat cells produce leptin, and since leptin is necessary for the progression of puberty, he believes the overweight and obesity epidemic may help to account for the growing numbers of preteen girls showing signs of early breast development. Another possible link between obesity and early puberty: Overweight girls have more insulin circulating in their bloodstream, and higher levels of insulin appear to stimulate the production of sex hormones from the ovaries and the adrenal glands.

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