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Wake Up! Our Kids Are FAT ... Fix It!

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As parents, we MUST help stop this horrifying epidemic. Momlogic expert Dr. Cara Natterson gives her advice on this weighty issue.

teens laughing at obese girl

Consider the numbers: One in three adolescents and two out of three adults are either overweight or obese in this country. Why is this happening ... and what can we do?

"Obesity is one of the hardest things to recognize for a parent," says ML pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. "Parents don't want to recognize that their child is having a problem, because it is the last thing they want for them. It puts the parents in crisis mode because of all that obesity implies: the loss of self-confidence, bullying, health implications, sadness."

This is an issue that can absolutely no longer be ignored, but what exactly IS this disease that's eating away at the health of this country, and what can we do to prevent it?

A child is considered obese if their weight is at least 10% higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult.

Think being fat doesn't hurt? Take a look at these teens, speaking openly about their struggles with obesity on a recent episode of "Tyra."

Dr. Cara says there is a simple explanation to why a large part of our youth is obese: "Our portions are too big, we eat too many calories and we do not exercise like we used to," she says. "We drive, we watch TV, we sit. The human body needs to move."

You must take a no-nonsense approach to setting rules in your household, says Dr. Cara. "Teens just as much as kids need rules," she explains. "The idea of their right to privacy and having computers and televisions in their rooms is not the correct way of approaching this."

Dr. Cara's advice:

1. Put computers in the kitchen or a space where kids can be monitored. Allow them two hours of "screen time" daily -- this includes computer, television, video games, iPods.

2. Apply the same rules for everyone in the house, not just the child or teen that is struggling with obesity. Everyone has the same amount of screen time and exercise time, and everyone eats similar foods. Make this a family pact so as to not alienate your obese child.

3. Create activity times with Mom and Dad. One day a week, Dad takes the kids out for a physical activity, and the other day Mom does it. Kids don't want to be fat, but oftentimes, they are too young to join a gym. Demonstrate the importance of physical activity.

4. Remove soda and junk food from the household. Create a healthy family environment for everyone.

5. Limit fast food, take-out, and eating out. Prepare foods at home as a family. Eat a diet rich in calcium and fiber, and limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

6. Enforce a rule of one hour of physical activity a day. (Otherwise, they won't receive their screen time.)

Most importantly, create an environment that supports and encourages healthy choices.

What do you do in your household to foster fitness and health? Share your tips and get advice in the momlogic community.

next: Woman Makes Clothes Out of Her Own Hair
135 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen February 27, 2009, 5:45 AM

Part of the problem is peoples ignorance, they think it’s genetics and well that does play a SMALL role in things it’s not the main reason. People need to stop stuffing twinkies and mcdonalds and soda down their throats and maybe that would be a great start.
Also get out a take a daily walk with your kids, most kids sit in a stinky classroom all day with no physical activity and well thats just not what we are suppose to do, we are physical creatures, get out and do something.

ashley February 27, 2009, 7:59 AM

We walk every night after dinner. Now that the weather is nice (at least here in Oklahoma it is) we have started back up again. I only buy diet soda, they are allowed a little bit of juice at breakfast and one capri sun a day. It makes me so sad to see all these overweight teens and kids and I absolutely don’t want that for my kids. My son is 6 and is so skinny you can count every bone on his body. He knows that it’s good to eat healthy. Every night at dinner he asks, Is what were eating healthy? Then the other day, I asked him if he wanted to go out for Mexican (I’ve been craving this one restaurants salsa), he said, No Mother, you’re cooking is so much healthier and tastier! I was so proud of him. Teach your kids early!! They will listen!! BTW, he’s also the one that threw a fit when his grandma tried to feed him cake and ice cream for breakfast!!

jACKIE February 27, 2009, 11:54 AM

I can’t help but feel sorry and disgusted when watching this. Who has let these kids get this way—they are in for MAJOR cycles. They will have to lose an enormous amount of weight to be healthy. I can’t imagine being a teen and letting myself get this way. How can a parent sit and watch this—they are probably fat too.


Anonymous February 27, 2009, 12:02 PM

I do feel bad for her, but wonder how did she get so big?

Anonymous February 27, 2009, 12:02 PM

big, beefy teens

Dee February 27, 2009, 1:09 PM

I just starve myself like Liz Lohan

Lolo February 27, 2009, 2:42 PM

Ashley—the point is that your kids are healthy, not “so skinny you can count every bone on his body.” and I highly doubt your son ever said any such thing. We get it. You cook healthfully. Congratulations! You should. But don’t state obvious lies, or your son will too.

2 cents February 27, 2009, 2:46 PM

lolo must have been a fat gal growing up…….

Anonymous February 27, 2009, 3:04 PM

ya know if people actually put in a hard day’s work instead of sitting on their bottoms all day, then they could eat most of the junk they wanted because they’d be Working it off.

Mia February 27, 2009, 3:15 PM

“So skinny you can count every bone on his body” is NOT healthy. Jeez, people. I have the opposite problem with my stepdaughter and niece. I can’t get them to eat. And I’d also like to know how the “healthy weight” keeps going down. When I was a teenager, my healthy range was 110-120, now it’s 90-100. Why? I didn’t get any shorter in that time!

ashley March 1, 2009, 8:51 AM

Ok people, my son IS VERY HEALTHY!!! He is super skinny but he eats very well!!! And Lolo, I am NOT A LIAR!! My son does say those things. He has manners!! Maybe your kids are snotty little brats!! Why would I post a lie?? Maybe you’re just jealous and you and your family are fat!!

Karen March 1, 2009, 12:42 PM

I think one major issue is not knowing when to address the weight as an actual “problem”. Lots of chubby little toddlers naturally turn into lanky kids. And lots of chunky kids slim down when they hit puberty. When I look at my old middle school year book, half the 7th grade class still had “baby fat” faces while the other half had already developed more mature adult like features. By the time parents realize thier child’s weight is a problem and not just a developmental issue that the kid will grow out of on their own, it’s often too late to correctly things easily because by then the child is a young teenager. Confronting a teenager about ANY behvioral issue is tough task for parents. Teens naturally want to rebel. Teens naturally think their parents are idiots who don’t understand anything. Teens naturally have issues regarding their own body image. Teens react emotionally to everything and parents are forced to tred lightly during those years. If a weight issue isn’t addressed prior to the teenage years a parent won’t have much luck fixing the problem later. So, at what point are parents supposed to stop waiting for their child to grow out of a chubby stage and intervene when we KNOW that all kids develope differently and some are just late bloomers?

deaddrift March 2, 2009, 2:47 AM

I hope I’m not the only one who appreciates the irony of a WEBSITE recommending LESS SCREEN TIME.

rightsizingamerica March 3, 2009, 12:47 PM

Why do we blame technology? Ipods are causing our obesity problem?!? Check out the states with the highest obesity rates, and they have the lowest rate of computer use. The problem is too much food. There is not enough time in the day (or week) to exercise off fast foods. It would take 4 hours of exercise to work off 1 (one) Quizno’s tuna sandwich. It would take 8 hours of exercise for one meal at Chili’s. One small soda takes more than an hour of walking. We must stop fast food restaurants, soda companies and agri-business from selling extra large food portions.

Mia March 3, 2009, 3:35 PM

I agree that the problem is too much food (and too little exercise) but why do people blame restaurants and businesses? No one is forcing anyone to go to those places or to buy soda or eat every piece of food from a value meal. No one is forced to upsize their meal. Parents buy it for their kids. A home-cooked meal doesn’t have to take much longer than sitting in a drive-thru and exercise can be fun for kids. You just have to teach it to them in a fun way.

Leslie March 25, 2009, 2:30 AM

Hi My Name is Leslie Ashley im Only 16 And i Weigh 323 Well Thats How Much i Weighed Last Time I Seen A Doc. Every Day i wake Up im hurt..sometimes i stay in the house because i get talked about by every body..i hate getting in my fathers car because i feel to big and when problems happen to his car i feel its my fault..Sometimes i cry at night when my mom and dad are sleep..Most time i cry myself to sleep..when me and my mom go to stores i dont really want to buy anything because my size gets bigger and clothes dont fit me..i want to talk about it with my mom but sometimes i feel she wont understand where im coming from..As i write this my heart hurts cause im crying ..No one knows how it feels for me to walk down the street and have people look at you like you stole a cow..i try to lose the weight but its hard so idk…i really dont like the summer time cause every one looks good going to the beach and pool..but i choose to spend my whole summer inside..i hate a teen im a nice girl i deserve to love life not be afraid to walk out my door everyday…I NEED HElP

Mfrybaqp June 24, 2009, 12:13 PM

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Leila Scranton March 14, 2010, 3:18 PM

ashley, u go girl!! i would love to have a kid like that after im married and have kids(well without the grandma part haha)i actually blame many things for obesity:developement in technology, fast food crap, schools and some parents who don’t know how hard it is for kids to cope with obesity. not that i have parents like that its just they think their child’s friends should like them for their personality/character and not their looks. unfortunatly, thats not how middle and high school work for the “cool clique” or the “popular crowd” even though it should and i wish it did. if ur kid has many friends, loves their life(and u noice it) but are obese then just work on their weight for their health:] please don’t hate me this is just my opinion if you don’t like what im postin just pleas complain to your friends, not me:)

zotrablue  June 2, 2010, 6:05 AM

that girl looking away from her freinds is verry cute! she shouldnt worryabout being fat!! yeah it sux wen people get really fat but its cute aslong as you watch yourself!!

MisoBelly June 10, 2010, 5:47 AM

“Limit fast food, take-out, and eating out. Prepare foods at home as a family. Eat a diet rich in calcium and fiber, and limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

This is like one of the best tips that could be given any obese child, I think we have to prepare them for the future, no more overeating.

All the best, Mike Belly
The lose belly fat guide with some great tips how to stop eating bad food.

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