A recent study shows that 37% of Houston’s school aged children are overweight or obese. This number is nearly twice the national average. It has become such a big concern because it can lead to serious health problems. These diseases were once very rare in children but now doctors are diagnosing them more and more because of the obesity epidemic.
The most severe and life threatening complications of being overweight can include:
- Sleep Apnea (when children suddenly stop breathing during sleep)
- Liver Disease (caused by fat accumulation in the liver)
Children can also develop problems with their hip and knee joints that can lead to permanent disabilities because being overweight puts too much pressure on their legs. Other chronic diseases caused by being overweight include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, gall bladder problems, and polycystic ovary disease (in young women).
Many children who are overweight become depressed and have low self-esteem. We think that it is very important for parents to help their children achieve and maintain a healthy weight to prevent health problems. The time is now.
If you are concerned that your child may be overweight, start by making an appointment with Dr. Eisner. Here are some helpful tips:
- Your child must have the desire and motivation to lose weight.
- Help to create this desire, by pointing out how this would benefit him/her
- Praise, Praise, and Praise—Studies have shown that praise is much more effective than criticism in changing behavior
- Try making a rewards chart: For example, give one star for every day for making good food choices. If the child receives 10 stars take them to the zoo or to a fun place! No FOOD rewards!!
- Do not let your child go hungry. Achieve this with a high protein diet, by allowing some oils such as salad dressing in their diet, and by markedly decreasing “white foods” (bread, chips, potatoes, tortillas, rice, and cookies).
- Encourage your child to eat foods with as many different colors as possible, and give (non-food) rewards for high numbers of these
- Have “healthy snacks” available, such as cheese, celery with a salad dressing dip, or fruits such as apples/grapes. AVOID: Fast food and sodas
- Encourage 1-2 hours daily of fun activities which keep your child active, such as dancing, gymnastics, sports, swimming, and family activities such as biking or walking
- Limit their television and internet time to less than 1 hour/ day (TOTAL).