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My 7-year-old is overweight and I’m worried he’s heading toward obesity. How can I fat-proof my child?


"There are no guarantees that a child won't become overweight or obese. But there are lifestyle guideposts that lead toward a healthy weight," says Dr. Kemba Black, a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold's Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center.

"Excess weight, once considered cuddly 'baby fat,' can start your child on the path to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, cardiovascular conditions and other diseases.

"The social stigma and emotional fallout can also hurt your child psychologically," Dr. Black says. "Overweight children are often teased by their peers, experience low self-esteem and are at an increased risk for depression.

"I see about 15 children a week who are considered obese, meaning there is 25 percent excess body fat in the boys and 32 percent in the girls."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled for preschool children ages 2-5 over the last 30 years.

"The good news is that parents can influence their child's lifestyle and weight," Dr. Black says. "One of the best strategies is to improve your child's diet. "When grocery shopping, choose yogurt, fruits and vegetables for snacks. Keep the sugary, salty and fatty foods out of your cart - and out of your home.

"Find activities your child likes. Physical activity is a critical component in weight control. It burns calories, builds strong bones and muscles, and helps kids sleep better.

"And, above all, realize that your pediatrician is the most qualified source to address issues about your child's weight and overall health. If you have concerns, make an appointment without delay."

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Kemba Black, MD, FAAP

​ My goal as a pediatrician is to care for my patients by partnering with and guiding parents to achieve the best outcome for our children. I encourage my patients and parents to freely communicate their concerns to ensure that the best care is provided.