Thursday, June 23, 2011

Obese Kids - A Health Concern For Parents

By Beth Fabian

Obesity Affects 17% Of All Children

On June 10, 2011 a group of Hendry CHD staff convened for a meeting about childhood obesity.  Pediatrician, Dr. Nancy Witham, is very concerned about the rising trend of obesity in children and desires to help educate the community and raise awareness about this serious problem. Dr. Witham met with the CHD group to brain-storm and share ideas about tackling childhood obesity.

Dr. Witham shared with the group some new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  Children under the age of two should be allowed no (zero) television viewing time.  Children under the age of two should also not be permitted fruit juice, which is a concentrated sweet.  

AAP also has taken a stand against flavored waters and artificially sweetened drinks for children. Dr. Witham discussed her approach to teaching parents about growth and development.  She uses growth charts approved by WHO (World Health Organization) to track height and weight and pays more attention to trends in the measurements over time instead of the BMI percentile.  

She also stressed children in their toddler and pre-school years benefit by addressing good eating patterns, thus preventing the child from developing into an obese child by the time they begin school. Parents are encouraged to be role models for their children, by eating healthy and getting physical exercise, and allowing their children to do the same. 

Any obese child who present with a co-morbid condition, including problems such as listed above, is recommended for referral for further testing and possible treatment.  For more information about childhood obesity and prevention, good websites to visit are and .

Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago. 

The increase in obese and overweight kids correlates directly with the lifestyle of the new generation.  Fast food is inexpensive and easy.  Children are tempted by every electronic gadget out there, increasing sedentary activity. Children are constantly bombarded with advertising for sugar and fatladen foods.  

School lunches are not as healthy as they used to be, and many students choose ala-carte items instead of the traditional school lunch.  Physical education in schools has taken a back seat, due to cost restraints and concentration on FCAT scores. Further, children are not as free to play outside at their leisure as they were years ago due to safety concerns. 

The effect of obesity causes many health problems. Some include: diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, gastric reflux, bone and joint problems, breathing problems, mental health and self-image problems, and even cancer.  The cost of health care for these children will be staggering.

The life expectancy for this generation of children is less than for the baby boomer generation. 

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