Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity 

You've probably read about it in newspapers and seen it on the news: in the United States, the number of obese children and teens is on the rise. You may wonder: Why are doctors and scientists troubled by this trend? And as parents or other concerned adults, you may also ask: What steps can we take to help prevent obesity in our children? This page provides answers to some of the questions you may have and provides you with resources to help you keep your family healthy. For additional questions, contact St. Anthony Diabetes Center dietitians and schedule an appointment. 794-5549

Why is Childhood Obesity considered a health problem?
What is Childhood Obesity? 
What can I do as a parent or guardian to help prevent childhood overweight? 
Learn More 

An Epidemic? 

• According to the 2007-2008 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago.  
• The financial cost of childhood obesity tips the scales at 3 billion dollars annually. 

Why is Childhood Obesity considered a health problem? 

• Childhood obesity may lead to the following health concerns:

 o Heart Disease
 o Type 2 Diabetes
 o Asthma
 o Sleep Apnea
 o Social Discrimination
 o Low Self-Esteem

What is Childhood Obesity?

• Obesity is defined as excess body fat. Because body fat is difficult to measure directly, obesity is often measured by body mass index (BMI).
• Growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are used to calculate children’s BMI. Children with a BMI between the 85th and 94th percentiles are generally considered overweight, and those with a BMI at or above the sex-and age-specific 95th percentile of population on this growth chart are typically considered obese.
• Children and adolescents with a BMI in the 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile are considered to be a healthy weight.
• Check your child’s BMI percentile at

What can I do as a parent or guardian to help prevent childhood overweight? 

Feeding Toddlers

Even small children love feeding themselves. It gives them a sense of independence and helps them learn when they are full.
Young children need specific nutrients rather than types of foods, so eating a variety of foods is the key to getting the nutrients they need. Some healthful finger foods kids can feed themselves include:
• a baked potato cut in strips and dipped in low-fat ranch dressing
• grilled chicken cut into strips with honey mustard sauce
• a bagel topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, toasted and sliced into strips
• graham crackers with peanut butter
• wedges of apple, peach or pear with a yogurt dip.

Children also need plenty of time to eat. Don’t force them to eat as fast as you might. Let them eat slowly, savor what they eat and learn when they are full.
Learning to make food choices and judge proper portions occurs very early in life, so give your kids a chance. St. Anthony Diabetes Center dietitians can help. Call 794-5549 for an appointment.  

Feeding Your Teen Machine

Bigger appetites, busy lifestyles, mood swings, struggles for independence, peer pressure: they all challenge how and what your teenager eats. As a parent, there are ways you can positively influence the eating habits of your teen.
• Stock your kitchen with easy-to-grab nutritious snacks, such as whole fruit, yogurt, hummus, cut vegetables and string cheese.
• Make time for family meals. Even if you have to schedule around after-school activities and jobs, put family meals on the calendar days in advance.
• Discuss the options at fast-food restaurants with your teen.
• Help kids learn about healthy portion sizes by buying small bags of snacks.
• Set a good example by leading a healthy lifestyle yourself, complete with regular physical activity and healthful eating.

Get Kids Cooking

Getting kids interested in food preparation now can help improve the foods they eat in the future.
Young adults who report they often purchase their own food and prepare meals at home eat fast food less often, eat more servings of fruits and vegetables and have overall healthier eating patterns.
Because food can become a hands-on activity, everyday tasks can get kids involved in food — and in doing so, promote good nutrition. Try these simple ways to explore food with young children:
• As you walk through the grocery store, encourage your kids to name the fruits and vegetables in the produce department.
• Grow your own garden with your child. Kids will enjoy eating the foods they grow.
• Have your kids help decide what foods to serve for breakfast, lunch and dinner and involve them in the preparation.

It’s never too early to teach your kids the benefits of good nutrition by arming them with the skills for preparing quick and healthful meals. 

25 Healthy Snacks for Kids 

Help Kids Stay Active 

Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time. Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. 
Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include:
• Brisk walking
• Playing tag
• Jumping rope
• Playing soccer
• Swimming
• Dancing  

Learn More

• For healthy eating, check out
• Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign
• Iowa’s obesity information
• Preventative information available at
• Get active with
• Community ideas to prevent obesity at .
• Encourage fresh fruit and vegetable choices with
• Contact St. Anthony Diabetes Center. Make an appointment to talk to a dietitian about a healthy eating plan 794-5549.


St. Anthony Regional Hospital & Nursing Home
311 S. Clark
Carroll, IA 51401