|How To Avoid Seeing This Doctor
1 Cut the power. Limit TV, computer games and Internet usage to 1 1/2 to 2 hours daily, says Dr. Leona Cuttler, chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism and director of the Center for Child Health Policy at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
2 Skip the pop. “If we could take away sweetened beverages, we would probably cut out at least 100 calories a day, which, overall and over time, adds up to significant weight gain,” Cuttler says.
3 Get moving. While sports and gym at school certainly help, Cuttler says, there are plenty of simple ways parents can help kids become more active: Take the stairs in a building. Walk your children to school. Park farther away at a store.
It may not be just baby fat.
Those few extra pounds on your child’s frame might not weigh on your mind now, but they could be taking a toll on his health and his future.
About one-third of all children in Ohio are overweight or obese — a statistic that rises to two-thirds by adulthood.
“We have data for Ohio which suggests that obesity is already prevalent by the time kids are 2 to 5 years of age,” says Dr. Leona Cuttler, chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism and director of the Center for Child Health and Policy at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
Factors such as too much time in front of the TV or computer, diminished activity, large food portions and poor nutrition have lead to a rise in obesity, says Cuttler.
“The reason that we’re concerned about it is not because of how a child looks or the cosmetic part of it,” she explains. “It’s dangerous for the child’s health. There are complications of obesity, even in children.”
The list of dangerous health conditions that impact obese children include Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, joint problems, hypertension, emotional problems and liver disease.
And it’s not just an issue for kids: 80 percent of children who were overweight at ages 10 to 15 were obese at age 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The younger the onset of obesity, the more severe obesity is in adulthood.
In addition, the risk for death in young adulthood rises significantly.
“There is pretty good data to suggest that at the current rates of obesity in adolescence, we will have 100,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease when these adolescents become young adults,” Cuttler explains. “That’s why many people have considered obesity to be a top public health threat for children.”
The epidemic of obesity must be attacked from several angles, Cuttler says. Parents and children need education, while policies must be enacted to tackle the issue.
To help families, Rainbow Babies & Children’s has an innovative program called Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight, which is free to kids 5 and older and their parents. The 12-week program involves an exercise physiologist, nutritionist and psychologist who work individually with the children.
“Addressing obesity involves all of us coming to terms with the idea that obesity is a disease, and it needs to be treated like a disease,” Cuttler says. “It needs to be prevented, and it needs to be taken very seriously.”