Childhood Obesity

Today, due to the obesity epidemic, diseases rarely seen in children in the past now affect many kids. For instance, type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset diabetes, is on the rise in overweight children. Other common problems of being overweight as a child include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep problems. Asthma, a common childhood illness, may worsen as children put on extra pounds. And, as overweight kids become overweight adults, health problems will only multiply.

In a cooperative effort between Memorial Healthcare and the University of Michigan, the Memorial FIT Kids program conducted a comprehensive Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk Factor Assessment on 6th grade students from around Shiawassee County. Based on the assessment of over 4,500 children, 36% had 3 or more risk CVD risk factors. Even more alarming, 10% of the children had 4 or more CVD risk factors.

There is much you can do to help your child achieve a healthy body mass index. Activity is essential not only for burning calories but also for developing creativity. Taking walks as a family and encouraging children to play outdoors, even if only for a short time, can provide many health benefits. Be sure to visit the resource links below to learn more about obesity and what your community has to offer in the way of activities and agency support.

The treatment of overweight children should be approached in a staged method based upon the child's age, BMI, any related comorbidities, weight status of parents and progress in treatment; and the child's primary caregivers and families should be involved in the process. According to the American Medical Association/Centers for Disease Control Recommendations on the Assessment, Prevention and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity study (June, 2007), the following Prevention Plus Protocol is recommended.

These recommendations should be implemented by the child's primary care physician and/or allied health provider. Within this category, the goal should be weight maintenance with growth that results in a decreasing BMI as age increases. Stage 1 recommendations include:

Dietary Habits and Physical Activity

  • Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Two hours or less of screen time per day, and no television in the room where the child sleeps
  • One hour or more of daily physical activity
  • No sugar-sweetened beverages

Patients and Families of the Patient Should be Counseled to Facilitate the following Eating Behaviors

  • Eating a daily breakfast
  • Limiting meals outside of the home
  • Family eating meals together at least five times per week
  • Allowing the child to self-regulate his or her meals and avoiding overly restrictive behaviors