In today’s entry, Dr. Michael Omidi discusses the impact pediatricians could have on decreasing child obesity rates.
The child obesity issue in the U.S. (and even globally) has reached epidemic proportions. There are a variety of causes: many openly vilify fast food, advertising, high-fructose corn syrup, television, video games, the education system, and countless other factors that cause weight gain and sedentary behavior in children. However, the objective is not to point fingers and place blame, but to facilitate any progress towards helping children live healthier, active lifestyles. We’ve already identified this as a problem—but we’re still in need of a way to help those already affected by it.
According to Dustin Duncan, author of a 2014 NYU study on child obesity, it is not only the parents’ responsibility to promote healthfulness: “We need clear communication between pediatricians and parents for parents to understand their child’s weight status and implications for them to make healthful changes.” Many doctors may be hesitant to have a straightforward conversation with parents of obese children, but experts suggest that doing so would make a significant difference, especially to those who may lack an understanding of how to achieve healthy living through diet and exercise.
In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics has appealed to pediatricians “to be an integral part of the obesity-prevention effort” and to encourage parents to make sure their children are getting at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day.
Pediatrician Dr. Patrick Dolan suggests that parents make only one change at a time towards healthy living, in order not to overwhelm their children. He advises substituting water instead of soda or juice, or finding fun ways to replace empty carbohydrates with vegetables and fruit. Other changes include not only diet, but also lifestyle habits (such as switching off the TV), physical activity and emotional support.
Yours in health,