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recommendations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers practical
steps families can take to help children maintain a healthy weight.
comes as part of an AAP clinical report published in the July 2015 issue of
Pediatrics. The report, “The Role of the Pediatrician in Primary Prevention of Obesity
,” (published online June 29), offers guidance to pediatricians and
families on how to include healthy habits into daily life, including a well-balanced
diet, increased physical activity and reduced sedentary behaviors.
“It is never
too early for a family to make changes that will help a child keep or achieve a
healthy weight,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP and
co-author of the report. “Families can improve their eating habits in a variety
of ways, but it is important for healthy eating and physical activity to be
tailored to the child’s developmental stage and family characteristics.”
of pediatric obesity has increased significantly in the past few decades, and
is now recognized as a public health priority. Parents and families are
encouraged to model healthy behaviors for children, and pediatricians are in a
good position to help families find ways to do this together.
take simple steps to eat healthier. Changing the food parents bring into the
home – and how they store and serve it -- can help children make healthful
choices. The AAP recommends:
- Buy fewer
sugar-sweetened beverages, high-calorie snacks and sweets.
- If you want to have
these foods for a special celebration, buy them shortly before the event,
and remove them immediately afterward.
- Healthy foods and
beverages (water, fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie snacks) should
be readily available and in plain sight on the kitchen table or counter,
or in the front of the shelf in the refrigerator.
- High-calorie foods
should be less visible – wrapped in foil rather than clear wrap, and
placed in the back of the fridge or pantry.
- Encourage children to
eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
The AAP also
recommends reducing sedentary behaviors. One way to achieve this is to have
fewer TV sets in the home and to remove the TV and other media from the bedroom
and the kitchen. Children who sleep less than 9 hours a night are more likely
to be overweight or obese; focusing on bedtime, and understanding how much
sleep children need at various ages can help improve a child’s overall health
Along with diet
modifications and reducing screen time, the AAP encourages pediatricians to
work with families to identify opportunities for physical activity.
enjoy physical activities together to meet the recommended 60 minutes of
activity a day. This can include participating in team sports, going to a park,
playground or walking/bicycle trails, bowling, dog walking, using the stairs or
walking to a destination rather than driving. The AAP offers a physical
activity “prescription” that pediatricians can use to serve as a reminder to
families and patients about the goals they have set for physical activity.
families have knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from
pediatricians to motivate them to implement behavior changes,” said Stephen
Daniels, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “Parents and
other family members are strongly encouraged to adopt the same fitness and
lifestyle changes as the child. Pediatricians can educate families, provide
support, and help them stay on track.”
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults.