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Battling Childhood Obesity

December 01, 2014

How to keep kids trim and healthy

As children grow out of the toddler years, excess weight can become a serious concern - perhaps putting them at risk for some very grown-up health problems

During a child's regular checkup, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital pediatrician Dr. Pankaj Dave reviews body mass index (BMI) and growth charts to determine if the child is within healthy weight limits. If there is a concern, Dr. Dave will counsel the child and parents and request a three-month follow-up appointment to track their progress. Although a physician plays an important role in managing a child's weight, Dr. Dave says the whole family must be involved.

Family involvement

"The parents have to recognize first that there is a problem," he says. "It's incumbent upon them to change eating habits, read labels and replace sweet desserts with fresh fruit. The family must also add exercise with something as simple as walking. All of these combined aspects will cause the child to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle."

Not surprisingly, overweight kids are at risk for developing typically adult conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Plus, unlike their slimmer peers, they're much more likely to develop serious health problems down the road, such as heart disease.

Epidemic proportions

Just how serious a problem is childhood obesity? According to Dr. Dave, it is, unfortunately, at epidemic proportions. Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than tripled. Today, about 16 percent of children and teens are overweight.

Along with making healthy food choices that add nutritional value to children's diets, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital physicians also recommend kids exercise an average of 60 minutes a day, most days of the week.