A: More children and teens are overweight now than ever before. In the United States, nearly one out of every three kids is considered either overweight or obese. This puts them at risk for serious health problems as they age, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and even asthma. Weight issues can also lead to low self-esteem, depression and a greater risk for being bullied. Your child will typically not outgrow her weight problem unless you teach her how to make healthier choices. One study found that 80 percent of overweight 10-15 year olds were found to be obese by the age of 25.
Turning the tables on childhood obesity is a daunting task. But rest assured — you as the parent have a lot more power than you might think. Realize that your child will follow your example, so be a good role model in what you do, not just what you say. Here are some tips for some healthy changes you can make in your household to benefit everyone:
• Don’t bring junk food into the home. If it’s there, it will be eaten. Have healthy snacks readily available. Avoid fast food and limit restaurant eating in general. When you do eat out, choose healthy options.
• Limit time in front of the computer or television to one or two hours a day. Also, never eat in front of the TV. Sit down at the table as a family as often as possible.
• Aim for at least 1 hour of physical activity daily.
Information from www.familydoctor.org, provided by Sally Bennett, PA-C, Mercy East Family Medicine, 5900 E. University Ave., Suite 200, 643-2400.