It is a building block to bad health; pediatricians are seeing it at an alarming rate - childhood obesity and the medical conditions that come with it.
“If we actually talk about the rates of obesity and what an obese child is potentially more at risk for: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, joint related problems, liver disease, gall bladder disease,” says Dr. Nancy Witham, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
And it may get worse. A recent study by the American Diabetes Association found kids who are overweight in kindergarten are more than five times as likely to be obese by 8th grade. Mother of two Andrea Gaddis manages her family’s weight plan.
“I think it’s a problem because we have a lot of fast food. I’d rather go home for 30 minutes, sit down have lunch and give them good snacks like carrots,” says Gaddis.
“It’s all about choices, and making the appropriate choices - looking at portion sizes, understanding that when your child says’ I’m hungry’ they might mean ‘I’m bored’,” says Dr. Witham.
Experts find it important to focus on diet at a young age, drop the ‘bigger is better’ mentality and nix the notion of baby fat.
“What we realize as pediatricians is that folks are accepting a certain amount of chubbiness on their children,” says Dr. Witham.
It may take more work, but children need to play more. The study points out diet alone doesn’t do it. A lack of physical activity is showing up on waistlines.
“If you see right now there’s nobody at the park. Everyone is at home and no body takes their kids outside. I make her go to the pool. Everyday she has outside time. I make her even when she wants to sit down and watch TV,” says Gaddis.
Healthy habits go a long way in tilting the scales and the odds in your child’s favor.