Ask a Health Care Professional – Childhood Obesity

Ask a Health Care Professional – Childhood Obesity

November 17, 2019 0 By Ewald Bahringer


[MUSIC PLAYING] DR. SUN: Hi, I am Eugene Sun, Vice
President and Shield Medical Officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of New Mexico. NARRATOR: September Topic is
Childhood Obesity. DR. SUN: Over the past two or three decades,
childhood overweight and obesity is increasing in this country. Currently it is
estimated that about one in three children are overweight, and one
in five are obese. NARRATOR: Dr. Sun, how does a parent
know if their child is overweight? DR. SUN: It is not always easy to tell by
looking at a child whether he or she is obese. The best way to figure that out is to weight
the child and take their height measurement and calculate what is known as a Body Mass
Index, or BMI for short. There are two ways to do this. Next when you take your child to
their doctor’s appointment, specifically ask the office staff to calculate a BMI. Alternately,
you can take the child’s height, take their weight, and find several very good online
BMI calculators. I just Googled “BMI childhood calculator” and came up with a bunch of great
resources. Once you calculated your child’s BMI, that can be compared to national growth
charts for children. A physician can do this in their office, or again, you can find these
growth charts on line. It’s important to know that children are growing,
and it’s important to compare your child’s BMI with national
growth charts. It is believed that obesity is defined as 95% percentile
or higher on the BMI charts. Overweight is defined as eighty-fifth
to ninety-fifth percentiles on BMI. Anything between the fifth and
eighty-fifth percentile on BMI for your child is considered
a normal weight. NARRATOR: What sign should a parent watch
for in a child if you think they may be obese? DR. SUN: Overweight or obese
children can have problems with sleeping and/or breathing. With
sleeping, sometimes sleep apnea can be a problem, where they don’t
sleep well and don’t breathe well in their sleep. If you feel
that is a potential concern make sure that you
ask your child’s physician. NARRATOR: What are some of the factors
that lead to childhood obesity? DR. SUN: Obesity is generally caused by a
combination of too much to eat and too little physical activity. Although there are some
genetic or hereditary causes for obesity, those are very uncommon. It is recommended
that you increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you feed your child, and really
try to stay away from fast foods. I was just checking online, the
calorie counts for a very popular fast food restaurant, and if
you take a bacon cheeseburger, a medium shake, and a medium fry,
that adds up to almost 1,800 calories, and for normal healthy active child, their
daily total caloric intake should be about 2,000 to 2,200. Fast food can really
be a problem with causing obesity. NARRATOR: What are the health
effects of childhood obesity? DR. SUN: Children who are overweight or
obese can have problem with high blood pressure, they can get pre-diabetes or even
diabetes and they can have high cholesterol. The problem though is that these problems
can carry over into adulthood, so that children that are obese have a higher chance
of growing up to be obese adults. NARRATOR: What can a parent do to help
prevent childhood obesity? DR. SUN: I think the key for parents, taking
care of their children, is to make sure that they are watching their diet. Try to emphases
fruits and vegetables. It is also important to encourage your child to be active,
get off the couch, and get out and do physical activities. Whether it is sports,
walking, hiking, the combination of better diet and increased activity will help
your child to maintain a more healthy weight. NARRATOR: When should you see your child’s
doctor if you think you child is obese? DR. SUN: If you are concerned you child has
a weight problem, I would go ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor as
soon as you can. They can take a good family history, they can calculate
the child’s BMI. They can compare it
to national growth charts for children, and they can give you
good advice and counseling about whether your child is actually overweight or obese.
They can help take a dietary history in terms of what kind of foods that you child is eating, and
they can give you recommendation on what kind of foods that you should be giving your
child. In severe cases, they can also refer you to a nutritionist who
is a specialist in diet and nutrition, and they can
give you very specific items on how to feed your
child and your family. [MUSIC ENDS]