COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The battle of the bulge is a struggle many children know before they even hit middle school. American children are facing an obesity epidemic.
The critical issue is that overweight or obese children face a long list of health problems starting at an early age.
“Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol…these kids are really, really sick. It’s not just about them being overweight. They have other health complications,” said Lexi Klenke, a registered dietitian at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Klenke says sugar, especially in drinks like pop and sports drinks, is one of the top reasons more kids are packing on the weight.
“Our drinks are another big issue that is causing us to take in more calories than our body is burning,” said Klenke.
Alyssa Bixler, a registered dietitian with Riverside Methodist Hospital and the McConnell Heart Health Center in Columbus offers some tips for parents. She recommends switching white bread and pasta for whole grain options.
“One of my favorites is Barilla plus pasta. It doesn’t taste like whole grain pasta, but has fiber, protein and omega 3 fats,” said Bixler.
She also said there is no need to shy away from putting cheese on veggies if it helps kids eat their vegetables. Just do it in moderation.
“Go ahead and put cheese on it. That is ok. Instead of cheese sauce, put real cheese on there,” said Bixler. She also recommends drinking water or milk instead of sugar packed drinks and soda.
Here are the fast facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 through 19 years are obese.
- Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.
- There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents. In 2007-2008, Hispanic boys, aged 2 to 19 years,were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white boys, and non-Hispanic black girls were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white girls.
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Weight Loss & Kids: Ask The Dietitian