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What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Child From Obesity

childhood obesity tipsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of obese children in the United States has tripled since the 70s. A recent study has found that children aren’t getting enough exercise, are overeating junk and fast food, and are watching too much television. All of which are contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic our nation is facing today.

Fact: 1 in 5 children are obese.

Fact: Obesity rates among children age 2-5 have jumped since 2013.

Parents play a pivotal role in a child’s overall health. They decide what their kids will eat because they control the grocery list as well as where they go out to eat. If poor choices are made at home when a child is young, these choices are more likely to carry over later in life, where they suffer the consequences.

What Does Obese Mean?

Obesity is most often determined by measuring the amount of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. You may be familiar with the term, BMI, or Body Mass Index. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a child’s BMI is broken down into four categories:

  • Underweight – less than the 5th percentile
  • Healthy weight – 5th to 84th percentile
  • Overweight – 85th to 94th percentile
  • Obese – greater than or equal to the 95th percentile

Kids’ weight and height will change as they grow and pediatric charts take this into account. BMI is important, but it falls short of providing a complete picture of a child’s health.

Today’s kids are in clear and present danger of being obese for life. One projection study found that 60% of American kids can be obese by the time they are 35.

What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Child From Obesity?

Breaking the mold of what “normal” kids do is an absolute necessity for parents. Here are six things you can do today to help your kids decrease their risk of obesity.

  1. Set rules and expectations that include limiting the amount of screen time they receive each day. The AAP recommends limiting kids to one to two hours per day.
  2. Teach kids to make healthy diet choices from the start. Avoid bringing unhealthy foods into the home except as an occasional treat.
  3. Prepare meals at home. This allows you to control what goes into each item on the menu.
  4. Lead by example. Let kids see you enjoying a wide variety of foods on your plate. Don’t turn your nose to a vegetable. Embrace it. If your kids see you avoiding certain healthy foods, they will think it is okay to avoid certain foods too.
  5. Eat dinner as a family. Kids who eat as a family are 40% less likely to be obese, according to one study.
  6. Know where your child stands regarding BMI. You can find a great BMI calculator here.

Your child’s health is a top priority for the team at Rainbow Pediatrics. If you are concerned that your child may be at risk for obesity or if you want advice on nutrition, schedule an appointment with their pediatric provider. We will work with you to develop a plan to help your child thrive.


Rainbow Pediatrics of Fayetteville
1327 Robeson Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305
Ph: (910) 486-KIDS (5437) Fax: (910) 486-0011

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