Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is My Child Overweight?

Blog contributed by Kathleen Zimmerman, MD,  Pediatrician

It’s no secret that childhood obesity is an epidemic in the US.  About 1 in every 3 American children is overweight.  Ask your medical provider what your child’s body mass index (BMI) is and where it fits on the normal growth curve.  If your child’s BMI is >95%ile, then your child is overweight.  In this case, your child would be more likely to develop adult type diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type II diabetes in their early teen or even pre-teen years.

What can you do to keep your child’s weight healthy?  Here are four simple tips:

  1. Make sure your child has healthy food choices at home.  Do not keep junk food or soda in your house.  It is too tempting for everyone and introduces bad habits that are more difficult to break later on. 
  2. Avoid all sugary drinks, EVEN JUICE.  Don’t be fooled.  Juices have as much or even more sugar than soda, even if the label says “all natural” or “no added sugar”.  Your child’s drinks should be mostly water and 3 cups of milk (for calcium and vitamin D).
  3. Do not eat fast food more than one time per month.  I know this is difficult with busy schedules, but even making a quick sandwich at home is a much healthier option and just as fast.
  4. Make sure your child exercises for at least an hour every day.  This can be an organized activity or playing outside, as long as their heart rate is up.  This is not only good for their body, but also good for their mind!


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