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Just Obese at Age 2?

Posted on 05/16/2011

Last week I talked about the childhood obesity epidemic in this country and how there are 12.5 million overweight children in the U.S...yes, that's right, 12.5 million! I also discussed my theories as to why the rate continues to climb, whose to blame and how to help solve the problem. If you missed last week's blog, I suggest you check it out.

I also discussed how one state, Georgia, is taking a different approach -- they are actually doing something -- to help curb obesity in their state. They have begun a so-called "anti-obesity" campaign intended to increase awareness. I applaud their efforts, however many are angry with them saying the campaign is going way too far. I heard from a few of you, thanks for your comments. I'm wondering, what do the rest of you think? Good idea with good intentions or is it harmful and damaging to overweight children? I'd love to hear from you.

On a related note, I recently read that a new study says obesity screenings should start as early as Age 2. What do you think? Is 2 too young? Or, is it better to detect at-risk kids early to stave off years of physical and emotional issues down the road? I've always thought such a life is difficult on the child and limits him in so many ways. Why not catch it early and help him change his course in life?

As a registered nurse, mother, grandmother and great grandmother I believe 2 is somewhat early, but it is essential to the child's future health if it can be detected early. I do believe that young children should have regular activity, nutritious meals and snacks and healthy beverages to ensure they do not become overweight or obese. That responsibility is up to the parents and other adults in every child's life to ensure their health.

According to a recent 21-month clinical obesity program involving nearly 500 kids, children 2 to 5 years old responded better to weight control and preventing metabolic abnormalities than waiting until they were older, 6 to 21 years old, when bad habits tend to be formed.

The program consisted of a 3-month clinical followed by a 9-month community group, in which patients and their families received care and support from dietitians, physical therapists, and child psychologists in addition to their pediatricians or nurse practitioners. They learned multiple techniques for behavior change, including setting goals, self-monitoring, and stimulus control. Families were instructed to use food and activity diaries and given pedometers to illustrate activity levels.

This effort was not focused solely on one aspect to improve the youngster's health. It takes a multitude of things to set upon change. Parents and families have the biggest hand at helping make the change, if they model positive behavior themselves.

Showing by example is the best way to teach children. So, if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk. Do choose healthy food options for yourself and your family, be active and live a healthy lifestyle. Your children will follow suit. They are mirrors of us and want to be just like us. Remember that the next time you choose to order fast food instead of preparing a home-cooked meal. Remember that the next time you sit for hours watching television instead of doing some sort of physical activity. Remember that when you pick up a soda instead of water. They are always watching, always learning, always absorbing...even when you think they are not paying attention!

What will help youngsters? I've said it before and I'll say it again, parents need to get back serving what kids need to eat not what they want to eat (unless kids want healthy choices).

My advice to parents out there...If you have your children in daycare or school, be involved in what they are consuming while not in your care. If you do not like it, voice your concerns. Pack a healthy lunch and/or snack for them. Ensure they eat a balanced diet, even if the schools choose to serve junk food to the rest of the children. The tide will change as long as you speak up and do something about it.

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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