Robin Corps Pediatricians in the United States have lately raised the growing concern about children who are obese or overweight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidelines to present simple and practical solutions for parents to be able to help their children maintain a healthy weight.
The AAP suggests ways for pediatricians and families on how to keep a healthy lifestyle in a report published online in Pediatrics. In the report, the AAP focuses on three things - a well-balanced diet, more physical activities for children and less sedentary behavior.
"Even when families have knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to motivate them to implement behavior changes," says Stephen Daniels, MD, FAAP, AAP Committee on Nutrition chair. He strongly encourages parents and family members to incorporate the same health habits as children into their lifestyle. Pediatricians provide support and help keep them "on track."
Previous reports have shown some progress in fighting obesity in children, however, over the past few decades, it has still come to be a growing public concern. In America, more than one-third of children and teens were obese or overweight in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last three decades, obesity has more than doubled in children.
The steps, as the AAP puts it, are simple and practical:
On Sweets. Parents should buy less high-calorie and sugar sweetened snacks and beverages. Sweets can still be consumed on special celebrations, however, it is better to buy them only before the celebration, and remove them right after.
Availability of healthy foods and beverages. Fruits and vegetables, low-calorie snacks and water should be easily accessed by children. High-calorie foods should be hidden at the back of the fridge or pantry, while the healthier ones go strategically placed in front, or on the kitchen table or counter. Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in a day are also encouraged.
Physical activity. Simple activities like walking the dog or going to the park to activities just a little bit more strenuous like team sports contribute to the recommended 80 minutes of physical activity in a day. The AAP encourages more physical activities to prevent a sedentary lifestyle that can also lead to obesity.
"It is never too early for a family to make changes that will help a child keep or achieve a healthy weight," reminds Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, AAP president and co-author of the report. She also stresses the role of both families and pediatricians in encouraging children to prevent obesity by two most important things: a healthy diet and increased physical activity.
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