The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that almost one in five American children and adolescents rate as obese. This puts their young bodies at risk of metabolic conditions like asthma, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint problems, and sleep apnea.
While there are sometimes medical reasons for a high body mass index (BMI), often it comes down to the usual factors of diet and activity. Children with sedentary lifestyles who eat highly processed, high-fat foods face a caloric imbalance that tends to add pounds.
As a parent, we suggest that you partner with our team of physicians at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, to build an effective weight loss program for your child. Medically monitored weight management is statistically proven to work for adults. Your child can benefit too.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to healthy activity levels that all children face is the widespread availability of passive entertainment. Television, video games, computers, and smartphones each provide low-effort, accessible distraction that fills available playtime.
Organized sports were once a feature of childhood. In the decade between 2008 and 2018, sports participation dropped from 45% to 38%. This was before the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things even further. The loss of unstructured physical play and sports participation means that, on average, your child’s caloric output shrinks.
Fast food drive-thrus seem designed for busy parents to feed their kids, and grocery stores abound with convenience foods that trade nutrition for speed. Then there are the readily available, salty snack foods and candies to tempt a wide range of taste buds.
An occasional indulgence is a pleasure of life that works well only when these meals are the exception rather than the norm. A child who regularly consumes food high in calories with little nutritional worth can further skew the calorie equation.
Altering your child’s exercise and diet routines may mean changes for your entire family. But no one needs to suffer. Changes you make for an overweight child benefit everyone in your household. Let’s look at some of the best positive changes you can make.
When snack choices available in your house are fruits, healthy cheeses, and whole grain products rather than chips, cookies, or candy, you create a safe haven for snacking. This lowers the impact of the occasional fast-food burger.
It may mean limiting screen time, but it’s your child’s future on the line. Involve them in the choice. Suggest individual activities if they’re not team sports inclined. Find ways to build in 30 minutes for walking, swimming, biking, or any other activity that keeps your child moving.
Your kids — even those truculent teens — still look to you as an influence and role model, no matter how well they hide it. Take the opportunity to draw your snacks from the same healthy selections and boost your active time. You may find cooperation much easier to obtain.
There’s no rush to weight loss. Trust the process and don’t obsess over the statistics — they don’t tell the entire story. We’re childhood obesity specialists, and we can help you work objectively with your child so that they gather the rewards of healthful changes. Contact our office by phone or online today to schedule an appointment.