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National Childhood Obesity Week

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Photo Source: Amazing World of Science With Mr. Green

National Childhood Obesity Week is July 3 -9 and started in 2011 in the UK. The purpose is to inform families and schools about the problem and causes. They encourage you to develop a healthy meal plan and exercise routine for your children. Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, United States and other countries.

Obesity is a very complex health problem and hard to find a solution that works long term for children. Since the pandemic the obesity rate in children ages 2-19 has increased. The Harvard Health website projects that if this trend continues over 57 percent of children in the US will become obese.

What Causes Obesity

Obesity has many causes and program that have tried to address the issue and these programs have had some success and failures. The medical staff in hospitals worked hard to get results only to have the child gain the weight back when the program ended. Obesity is caused by

  • Genetics

  • Eating Too Much Junk Food

  • Lack of Exercise

  • Poverty and Food Scarcity

  • Overeating

  • Promotion and Advertising of Junk Food

  • Poverty

  • Social and Cultural Issues

  • Emotional Issues

  • Bullying

With such a long list of issues you really cannot blame the child or parents for obesity because our system promotes junk food, sugar and fat in advertising. Fast food is one of the most popular forms of eating for families and is not very healthy. It is inexpensive and tastes good that is what draw us in. Other issues stress, poverty, food scarcity add to the problem.

Diet and Exercise

Healthy Food: Source: Giphy

Animation Source: Giphy

It is advised to work with your primary care physician to devise a diet and exercise program if you children are overweight. Try to make some healthy changes in your diet at home including more fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, lean meats, fish and poultry. Be sure your children get adequate sleep.

Start slow by introducing vegetable and fruits to your meals. Salads, soups, and side dishes are one of the best ways to include more fruits and vegetable in the diet. Stew and one pot meals feed a family and can include lean meat, fish, poultry vegetables and herbs. Try to make changes at home if you have no programs for overweight children where you live. Check with your physician they can refer you to a program or dietitian.

Cut down on soft drinks, fast food, snack foods, baked goods, and ice cream. Moderation and smaller portions will make a difference. Weight Watchers may be a good program for teens that are overweight. They have groups and emphasize healthy eating and exercise. The cost is reasonable.

Other organizations that may have weight loss program for children are the YMCA, hospitals, and other social service agencies. A good source of information for diet and exercise is the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Heath Obesity Prevention Strategies. It gives information on what to eat and exercise at home for families and children.

Walking: UTrust/Giphy

Medications and Surgery Options For Children

Today the American Academy of Pediatrics is taking an aggressive interest in obesity. For children severely overweight they are recommending medications for those 12 year old and weight loss surgery for those 13 and up.

Parents should look for a doctor that will discuss the pros and cons of medications and weight loss surgery. t. Many doctors say this is not the best option for all children. Both medications and weight loss surgery have side effects that affect health.

Medications For Weight Loss

When diet and exercise are not enough medication can help your child lose weight. More children are choosing medications and weight loss surgery than ever before. Medications can cause stomach upset, acid reflux, headache, dizziness, pain in the stomach, gallbladder disease, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure. Some weight loss medications are linked with

weaker bones in children.

Before deciding on weight loss medications weigh the pros and cons carefully with your primary care physician.

Surgery For Weight Loss

Surgery is not suited to everyone and weight loss surgery comes with many risks and side effects. It can cause belching, infection, diarrhea, and blood clots, and gallstones. The gastric bands can move or erode, cause hernias, and interfere in how the body processes foods.

Painkillers are often used to treat pain after surgery. Your child might develop an addiction to painkillers. Children with mental health issues are not good candidates for this procedure. Physicians list dehydration, dental issues, weakness, dizziness, heart palpations and fatigue as possible side effect of this surgery.

For children that cannot lose weight loss surgery may be a viable option. It can be successful but find a doctor that discusses the pros and cons and helps you determine whether it is right for your child. Your child should be mature, well adjusted, disciplined, and able to cope with the surgery.

For children moderately overweight diet and exercise would be a healthier option. Some children may have problems losing weight with just diet and exercise due to genes and other factors In this case looking into medication and surgery is an viable option.


New Pediatric Guidelines On Obesity in Children and Teens, Clarie McCarthy, MD., Harvard Heath Publishing, January 2023

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Heath

Bariatric Surgery For Obese Adolescents Weighing the Pros and Cons by Philip Schauer MD and Kathyrn Weise, MD MA Cleveland Clinic

Prescription Medication to Treat Overweight and Obesity National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease

Super Nutrition: Healing Foods

` Junk Food: Everyday I Exercise

Walking: Giphy

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