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Start Them Young!

"Preventing obesity in children"
By: Ma. Jocelyn A. Niere-Quidlat, MD, FPPSStart Them Young!

So what can parents do to prevent obesity in children? The pediatrician can certainly be of help in the monitoring of the child’s growth and development. During well-baby visits, the pediatrician plots the weight, height, and head circumference in the growth chart.

Body Mass Index (BMI) can be determined starting the age of 2. This can be computed by getting the weight (in kg)/height (in meters) squared. BMI is a measure that correlates with body fat. In adults, a BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is obese. In children, however, body fat changes throughout development; therefore BMI percentile must be used.

During the newborn and infancy period, breastfeeding is encouraged. Parents should recognize hunger and satiety cues. Parents or nannies misconstrue that when a baby cries, he is hungry. This may lead to overfeeding.

Parents should introduce the proper foods (and proper portions of food) when the little one has started on solids. Structured meals and snack time with the family are encouraged.

When the child is at school, in the day care, or with extended family and friends, parents should know and check the food eaten. Sugar-sweetened beverages are discouraged at all times. Limit the kid’s junk food intake. Skipping of meals is a no-no, especially breakfast.

Encourage physical activity. Make outdoor sports and play part of the kid’s daily routine. Limit television-viewing and computer time to two hours per day. Discourage combining television and eating.

Lastly, parents should remember that their kids are likely to adopt their eating and exercise habits, good or bad, thus they should be role models of healthy behavior. Prevention is always better than cure. Obesity is preventable so why not adopt measures early on to prevent it?

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