Pediatricians may need to offer practical information about how parents can obtain the kinds of nutritious foods recommended for children. "For example, in communities where access to fresh vegetables and fruits is limited, informing families about farmers' markets or local grocery stores that have a good supply of frozen or canned vegetables and fruits" may help, the guidelines say. "Pediatricians should also become familiar with federal food assistance programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)."
Children who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The longer children are overweight or obese, the more likely they are to remain so into adulthood. Obesity also carries a hefty price tag: childhood obesity is estimated to cost $14 billion every year, and adult obesity could cost between $147 billion and $210 billion annually. Helping children maintain a healthy weight from an early age is essential to preventing a wide range of health problems and avoiding billions in health care costs.
Benjamin Franklin's famous dictum "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is ironically the perfect approach to childhood obesity. The CDC has recently raised the notion that should the alarming increase in childhood obesity not be reversed, the consequences may make the current pediatric population be the first generation to not exceed the life span of their parents. Studies have indicated that childhood obesity must be attacked prior to the teen years. Twenty percent of obese 4-year-old children will grow up to become obese adults; 80% of obese teens will continue their obesity into adulthood. All of the above-reviewed consequences of pediatric obesity are brought forward into the adult years. Here are three amazing observations: (1) children 6 months to 6 years of age watch an average of two hours of television per day; (2) 18% of children less than 2 years old have a TV in their bedroom. Of this toddler population, 34% watched more than two hours of TV daily; (3) children 8-18 years of age spend an average of seven and a half hours per day involved with entertainment media activity such as television, computer games, video games, and cell-phone calls/texting.