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Simple Things Parents Can Do to Help Fight Childhood Obesity

While the pediatric obesity rate is starting to level off, it still remains a major problem. What can parents do to protect their kids?

Simple Things Parents Can Do to Help Fight Childhood Obesity

Overweight and obese children are more likely to eventually suffer from serious lifelong illnesses, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea

The fiscal outlay for managing these serious diseases and the affect it can have on the individual’s ability to work and prosper can also lessen the family’s overall socioeconomic level.

Latino children are one of the hardest hit

According to a new report, statistics among Latino youth remain significantly higher than other ethnic groups. The Fact Sheet produced by the Leadership for Healthy Communities, indicates that Latino children and adolescents are significantly more likely to be overweight and obese than their Caucasian peers.

The study found:

  • 22.4% of Hispanic youths ages 2 to 19 are obese, compared with 16.9 percent of all youths.
  • Preschool-age Hispanic children are four times more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic white children.
  • Hispanics are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

As an immigrant to the United States, I can certainly understand the draw to share and retain the culture of one’s homeland, including the customs and familiar foods that go along with it. But as parents, we must first and foremost think about our children’s short and long-term health needs.

When obesity begins in childhood, it can be a difficult battle to fight throughout life. So as a parent, it’s important to start young.

What can you do?

Here are five ways to help keep your children fit:

  • Feed your children food in its most natural state: fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and white meat. If fresh is not available or prohibitively expensive, purchase frozen without added sugar on fruits or breading on meats.

  • Keep processed foods (that come in bags or boxes) out of the house.
  • Have a big pitcher of water in the refrigerator at all times. Dress it up with a few slices of fresh citrus. If that’s all there is in your kitchen, children will drink it.

  • Get outside. Play. Introduce a new sport — Frisbee, riding a bike, jogging around the track at your local high school. Sign your children up for a local sports team where they will get regular exercise, gain confidence and make new friends.

  • Get real about portion control: Many of my Hispanic patients seeking bariatric weight loss surgery are surprised to discover the proper portion of meat (the size of the palm of your hand) or the (shocking) amount of carbohydrates in a cup of rice.

We all want our children to grow up healthy. It’s up to us, as parents, to set to set the stage for success when our kids are young.

About Dr. Seun Sowemimo, MD, FACS

Dr. Seun is board certified surgeon, obesity specialist and medical director at Prime Surgicare, located in Freehold Township at CentraState Medical Center’s Medical Arts Building. He is board-certified, Columbia and Yale University fellowship-trained in advanced laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgery.

To learn more, visit primesurgicare.com or call Prime Surgicare at 732-982-2002.

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