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Can I Fat Proof My Child?
If you have a young child who is overweight, it’s understandable you may be concerned about their wellbeing and that they will suffer from obesity in the future.
"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,” explains Dr. Kemba Black, a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled for preschool children ages 2 to 5 over the last 30 years.
"I see about 15 children a week who are considered obese,” notes Dr. Black, “meaning there’s 25% excess body fat in the boys and 32% in the girls."
"The social stigma and emotional fallout can also hurt your child psychologically," she adds. "Overweight children are often teased by their peers, experience low self-esteem, and are at an increased risk for depression.
The good news is that parents can influence their child’s lifestyle and weight. While there’s no guarantee the child won’t become more overweight or obese, you can help them make lifestyle choices that can put them on the path to a healthy weight.
“One of the best strategies is to improve your child's diet,” Dr. Black explains. "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.”
Dr. Black also points out that physical activity is a critical component in weight control.
"Find activities your child likes. 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,” she concludes.