Childhood obesity can lead to lifelong problems

by Wendy Miller, M.D., Director, Healthy Kids Program, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

The rates of childhood overweight and obesity are escalating at an alarming rate. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Currently, over one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Weight issues in children can be associated with low self-esteem and teasing from peers. From a medical standpoint, obese children are more likely to have risk factors for early heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and pre-diabetes. They are also at higher risk of joint problems and sleep apnea. Long-term, obese children are at high risk of adult obesity, and therefore at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and arthritis.

Early intervention to change current lifestyle behaviors and put children on a healthier path can prevent future medical problems and improve overall quality of life.  Nutrition goals that I find easy to remember and that I keep in mind with raising my own children is the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0” plan.  Each day, encourage children to gradually work toward achieving the following:

543210_planRemember, the goal is to make progress toward healthy lifestyle habits over time – rather than perfection overnight.

Keep in mind that parents are role models for children.  Eating healthy, staying active and limiting your sitting time is not only good for your own health, but can also help your children lead healthier lives.

Join Beaumont Weight Control Center experts for a fun, interactive and educational group program promoting healthy lifestyles. Families with children ages 8 to 12 who have a body mass index, or BMI, above the 85th percentile are eligible.

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