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What Parents Need to Know about Childhood Obesity

Posted on Sep 09, 2019

September is National Childhood Obesity Month. On this week’s On Call for All Kids, Raquel Hernandez, M.D., the medical director of the Healthy Weight Initiative at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains the problem of obesity among children and teens today.

How common is the problem of pediatric obesity and what trends are we seeing?

It is one of the more common pediatric conditions that we are seeing today. One in three children ages 2-18 meet criteria for what we call “overweight.” Fewer than one in five children are meeting the criteria for “obesity.” Those who meet the criteria for obesity are more at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes.

I see that my child is so active (even hyper). How could he or she be overweight or obese with this type of activity?

Physical activity is not the only solution to improving weight risk. If fact, a lot of research indicates that about 80% of dietary changes are what influences weight for better or for worse. So regardless of how active your child is, that’s not the only thing that will solve the problem.

Healthy food is so expensive. … I don’t know how I would afford to make healthy food for my child or family.

We are in a challenging food environment. There is a lot of marketing telling us what foods we need to buy. But what we found is that a family of four can be very well fed with wholesome nutritious food on a budget of about $10 to $15 per day. It requires good planning and a bit of coaching and some creativity.

A recent study you conducted found that even if your child is at a normal weight they could still be at risk for obesity.

We were able to compare the lifestyle behaviors we know help promote healthy weight in three different classes of kids.

95210 – Is an approach that includes all heathy behaviors:

9=The minimum hours of sleep a child should get each night
5=The number of servings of fruits and vegetables we want children to have
2=The maximum amount of hours of screen time a child should have
1=Hours of daily physical activity a child should get
0=Amount of sugary beverages a child should have

If your child does need help, we have resources at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Healthy Steps is a multidisciplinary clinic intended for children and families who are interested in addressing their lifestyle.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical experts. Visit each Monday for the latest report.

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