Preventing and Treating Child Obesity

Recent studies show that 11-16% of children in the U.S., or at least 155 million youngsters, are overweight or obese. Eating more (larger portions) and exercising less (sedentary lifestyle) are the two most notorious culprits.

These conditions put our children at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults, and developing chronic diseases later in life. Obese children are at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, early heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

To measure obesity risk, use the body mass index.

All parents should focus on gradually changing their family’s physical
activity and eating habits to prevent and treat obesity. Here are some healthy tips to keep in mind:

* Avoid fad diets, such as low-carb, and limit your child’s caloric intake to 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day with a healthy diet, 30% or fewer calories from fat.
* Consume the calories as follows: 25% for breakfast, 50% for lunch, and 25% for dinner.
* Avoid pre-prepared and foods with extra sugar by keeping them out of the home.
* Do not reward completion of meals with sweet desserts.
* Make sure your children eat 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
* Enjoy physical activities as a family, such as a hiking or ski trip
* Encourage your child to participate in active play by enrolling them in a structured activity, such as sports, martial arts, etc
* Limit TV viewing.
* No eating while watching TV.


Serdula, MK, Ivery, D, Coates, RJ, et al.: Do obese children become obese adults? A review of the literature. Preventive Medicine 1993; 22: 167-177.

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