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The Overweight Child

Kandi Waddles, MD, Lexington Clinic Pediatrics

It is easy in our fast paced world to get caught up in work and activities that nutrition can take the back seat and all too often our meals are obtained thru a fast food window.       

I certainly can relate, many days my husband and I come home from work after picking up our kids and afterwards stop to eat on the way home. There is little nutrition  and a lot of fat in the grilled cheese, fried chicken nuggets and french fries my daughters love to eat. No wonder 1 out of every 3 children in the United States is considered obese or overweight. The incidence of obesity in American children has tripled since the eighties. This is really sad, as an obese child is at greater risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and premature death from early heart disease or stroke. 

Many children are obese because of changes in the typical American family’s lifestyle: Unhealthy eating habits and a decrease in exercise. Our children today are more sedentary with so much time in front of a computer or television screen.

To prevent obesity in children we should take the following steps:

- Monitor food portion size and try to get 5 fruits/veggies in a day, meal planning in

  advance will help achieve this goal

- Make sure your child eats breakfast daily and limit the sugary sodas and juices

- Get your child to exercise- a goal should be 1 hour a day. Playing in the backyard,

   riding a bike, playing soccer- just get moving!

- Limit TV, video games, and computer time to less than 2 hours a day, and please do not

   have a computer or TV in your child’s bedroom.

Lastly, as parents we should be role models for our children. If we are overweight, our children are more likely to be overweight. Although sometimes it is difficult to do, we should exercise regularly and demonstrate good nutrition for the benefit of ourselves and our children.