Childhood Obesity

Dr. Susan Ribeiro, Pediatrician

It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise in America, and we in Northern Nevada are not immune. In fact, research from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that the percentage of kids in the US considered obese has tripled in the past 20 years. This is not surprising, given that today’s children are less active and are eating a less healthy diet than ever before.

“Kids are less active because they’re spending so much free time in front of the TV or playing video games instead of riding their bikes and playing outside”, says Dr. Susan Ribeiro, MD, board certified pediatrician on staff at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. “When you combine this less active lifestyle with more sodas and junk food and fast food, you can end up with obesity.

Luckily, though, there are some simple things that families can do to prevent these problems, or make a positive change. After dinner, the family can go for a walk together or ride bikes. On the weekends they can plan fun activities such as swimming or take a scenic hike. They can even pack a healthy picnic lunch or come home and prepare a healthful dinner together. It’s also a great idea to get kids involved in sports. Not only is it good for their physical health, but it helps them learn teamwork, make new friends, and build self esteem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting the amount of video game and TV time to less than 2 hours per day. Dr. Ribeiro also recommends to limit soda, juices, and sugary drinks. Kids should have milk for strong bones and teeth, but otherwise focus on drinking water throughout the day.

“Obesity puts children at risk for numerous health problems including Type II diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, hypertension and early heart disease,” Dr. Ribeiro says. “By setting a good example with healthy, home cooked meals and staying active together as a family, parents and caregivers can help kids develop good habits for life.”