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Childhood obesity: fat is not cute

Posted: March 4, 2010 10:44 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
When 10-year-old Jesse came to Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, his weight was well past the normal range for a child of his age.

In talking with his mother, Jesse's health care provider uncovered some of the factors leading to his weight problem: a diet largely consisting of fast food and a sedentary lifestyle.

Through nutritional counseling, Jesse and his family members are on their way to gradually establishing healthier eating and living habits.

Childhood obesity is of particular concern because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Socially, being overweight can cause low self-esteem, behavior/learning problems and depression in children.

As part of regular well-child care, your doctor calculates your child's body mass index (BMI) and determines where it falls on the national BMI-for-age growth chart. The BMI indicates if your child is overweight for his or her age and height.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's cutoff points help identify overweight and obese children:
BMI-for-age between 85th and 94th percentiles - overweight; BMI-for-age 95th percentile or above - obesity.

Healthy eating and increasing physical activities are good solutions to curb weight problems in children.

Diets should include fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks (not high in sugar or too much salt) should be available for growing children.

Sedentary activities such as playing video games and talking on the phone should be limited. Find activities to do with your child.

SDFHC embraces the self-management philosophy of health care, which empowers patients to take charge of their health.

By talking with your provider, you can come up with solutions to help keep your child's weight in a healthy range now and in the future.

Contact the SDFHC health center nearest you: Canyon Country Health Center (661) 424-1220; Val Verde Health Center (661) 257-4008; Newhall Health Center (661) 291-1777.

Dr. Pat Robbie is a SDFHC pediatrician and appointments can be made with him at the Canyon Country Health Center.

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