Childhood obesity is an ongoing issue in our community. According to the CDC, “childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States putting kids at risk for poor health.” Along with obesity, comes health consequences such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Once these issues start in adolescence, then the harm has begun. New guidelines were released in 2017 helping doctors better manage this growing epidemic to keep our children safe. Here are some tips for parents.

Emphasize a balanced, healthy diet and try to cut out excess sugar while focusing on whole wheat and high fiber foods like fruits
and vegetables.

Regular exercise 5 days a week for 30-60 minutes is recommended.

Starting these lifestyle changes early can prevent the need for lifelong medication.

Have your child’s blood pressure checked on a regular basis starting at age 3 (the ideal blood pressure is dependent on the child’s age and size).

Cholesterol levels should be checked between the ages of 9 and 11.

Visit your pediatrician for regular check-ups. There are many diet and exercise plans available, which can be confusing for parents. Your doctor can recommend the right plan for your child.

If they have any concerns, your child can be referred to a pediatric cardiologist or other specialist for further evaluation. They know when to evaluate for more severe issues, and intervene when lifestyle modifications are not enough.

A multi-disciplinary approach is always helpful. At WellStar, for example, the Center for Best Health offers dieticians, exercise specialists, therapists and other services to complement the care your child’s doctor is providing.

– Jeffrey Sacks, M.D., pediatric cardiologist, WellStar Medical Group

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