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Portion Sizes, Exercise, and Good Examples are One Doc’s Prescription to Cure Childhood Obesity

The fact that our country is experiencing an obesity crisis is not news. However, until it is reversed, praise goes to the doctors and advocates who won’t give up the fight. One of the hardest battles in the obesity epidemic is that of the children. Natalie Sollo, the Childhood Obesity Clinic Medical Director in Wichita, Kansas offers some fresh insight to the problem and how portion sizes may be a key to solving children’s weight problems.

One of the hardest facts to face about childhood obesity is that our kids are commonly experiencing diseases that were once only considered “adult” diseases. These afflictions include high blood pressure, diabetes, and even sleep apnea. Sollo pointed out the downward spiral an obese child is more likely to fall into. As obesity is known to commonly cause depression and low self-esteem, a child is more likely to emotionally overeat. These habits will easily lead to adult obesity which brings on even more health problems. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, many types of cancer, and osteoarthritis are all common diseases an obese adult faces.

The problem is growing every day, but why? Why are our kids in such risk today verses even 20 years ago?

Sollo gave four strong reasons explaining today’s trends.

•  The availability of fast foods, sugary drinks and other foods with little nutritional value and plenty of calories.

•  Parents expecting their children to eat adult-sized portions of food.

•  Lack of exercise because of busier school days and increased access to video games, computers and other electronic entertainment.

•  Parents and other family members and friends who set a poor example.

Sollo stresses that children need to be served appropriated portion sizes. For example, kids up to the age of six should only be having 2 servings of lean meat a day. This means a 1 to 3 tablespoon serving of chicken, fish, or other lean cuts. Many parents are not aware of what’s appropriate for their children’s nutritional needs. To find out what portion sizes are best for their children, refer to this great chart.

While the portions may tremendously effect our children’s health, they won’t erase the need for exercise. “Parents also need to encourage their child to be physically active, and they need to set a good example,” Soolo says. Parents can learn more about activities for their young children at the Head Start Body Start website.

Finally, another needed tool for fighting this issue is knowledge. Many parents are unaware when their child is overweight. An annual check-up that includes a BMI measurement is recommended. This statistic will allow parents to know if their child needs help before it gets out of control. Sollo explains how a child in their obesity clinic would receive treatment if their BMI was above the appropriate level.

“The beautiful thing about children is that they are still growing. At our obesity clinic, we don’t put kids on diets or try to get them to lose weight as our primary goal. Instead, we help them grow into their weight and develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. This means providing appropriate portions of healthy foods and keeping the child active.”

“We also work with the entire family to change lifestyle habits. The results can be healthier moms and dads, as well as children.”

Simple steps guided by tireless advocates may be what turns this problem around for our kids.

March 14th, 2012

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