Obesity Week: Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States

9:32 AM, Mar 3, 2010   |    comments
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Ohio is ranked 15th when it comes to overweight or obese young people. Doctors say if parents don't help their children now, they will become obese adults.

Audrey Dillon is six years old.  And she is in the 95th percentile for height and weight for her age group.

"So just recently at her six year check the doctor wanted her to see dietitian to tweak some things" says Audrey's mom, Kathleen Dillon.


By the centers for disease control standards Audrey is considered at risk for being overweight.


Dillon says "We were probably eating a little more than we should have and we weren't' exercising as much."


So for the last couple of months Audrey and her mom have been coming to see Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Dietitian Tara Harwood.  At their visit they've been working on the right foods to eat and portion control.     


"You always want to work with the child before they become overweight. Because once someone is overweight it is a lot harder to manage," says Harwood.


Doctors blame the lack of activity at home and school.

Eating more fast or processed food and drinking more soda also contribute to a child's weight gain.


But experts add it doesn't take major changes to get children on the right path to eating healthy and becoming leaner.


"Children are a little bit easier to work with than adults because children are growing. So as they are growing what I say is let's maintain your weight and then you lean out," says Harwood.


Harwood also says parents need take charge at home. "Start making healthy behavior changes and set a good example because really children love to role model their parents. And so parents need to set an example from the start."


At the Dillon's home, they added more physical activity and changed how they eat.


Kathleen says, "We are using smaller plates and I just measure it out and we don't go back for seconds."


Harwood adds some parents need to change their thinking when it comes to meal time and children.


She says, "I don't believe in clean the plate method at all. Allow your child to listen to their body from an early age. If they don't want to finish it then they don't have to finish it."


Make sure to keep the experience positive for the child.


Here are some books that might help parents.


"Trim Kids: The Proven 12-Week Plan That Has Helped Thousands of Children Achieve a Healthier Weight." By Melinda S. Sothern, T. Kristian Von Almen and Heidi


"Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming" by Ellyn Satter.


 fitnessandkids.com. It has blogs for parents and what exercise equipment to buy to help your child lose weight.




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