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    Obesity: Facing Up to It

    American adults are getting fatter, and so are their children. The stats are pretty staggering:

    • Only Colorado can claim that less than 20% of their citizens are obese.
    • Blacks have a 51% higher prevalence of obesity compared to whites, and Hispanics have a 21% higher rate of obesity.
    • 12% of American kids ages 2-5 are obese. That number goes up to 17% of kids ages 6-19.
    • 80% of kids who are obese at ages 10-15 are obese as adults. This leaves them at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

    I think we can all agree that there is a problem here. That’s why I am very proud of First Lady Michelle Obama for launching a major childhood obesity initiative . While it isn’t the government’s job to pay for weight loss programs or fitness club memberships, the spotlight may raise awareness and offer constructive tips for many Americans. I hate to say it but… we’ve all got to take personal responsibility and make changes in our lives to turn this obesity epidemic around. And yes, it is very hard to break bad lifestyle habits.

    Here are a few simple changes you can make:

    1. Buy skim milk instead of 2% or whole milk.
    2. Offer water as a beverage (crazy idea, no?)
    3. Don’t stock the pantry with juice drinks, sports drinks, or sweetened beverages (i.e. soda).
    4. Plan ahead and cook more meals at home-so you don’t end up picking up fast food or to-go.
    5. Grill foods instead of frying them.
    6. Make scheduled times to exercise. Don’t just try to “get around to it”.
    7. Exercise as a family, instead of watching TV as a family.

    Mrs. Obama has taken some heat for telling the world that her own daughters have had been overweight. Critics say the girls are at a vulnerable age for body image issues; sharing their body mass index with the entire world is inappropriate, even if it is for the better good. Supporters claim it shows that no one is immune to this problem.

    I agree with both arguments. So, I asked my daughter what she thought about it. Her comment: “Well, I hope Mrs. Obama got permission from them before she said that! It’s their body and they should get to decide if the world should know.”

    I’m curious to know what you think!

    - Ari Brown, MD, FAAP

    WebMD Parenting & Children’s Health Newsletter - Must-have children’s health news


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