• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Obesity in young kids on the rise

New data published in Pediatrics reveals an alarming trend in childhood obesity in the U.S. The data shows an increase in obesity for kids age 2–5 from about 9 percent to almost 14 percent over the past four years.

Many factors can contribute to weight issues during childhood, including:

  • Diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family factors
  • Psychological issues
  • Socio-economic conditions

One of the best strategies for reducing childhood obesity is to improve the eating and exercise habits of your family.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Bridget Biggs, a Mayo Clinic pediatric psychologist, offers ideas for promoting healthy living in your home. Jeff Olsen reports.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Here's some heavy news: One in 6 American kids is obese.

"The reason why we are concerned about that is all the health problems that are associated with having excess weight on our bodies," says Dr. Biggs.

According to Dr. Biggs, overweight kids are being diagnosed with what had been adult-onset diseases.

"We're seeing kids with Type 2 diabetes," she says. "We're seeing kids with fatty liver disease, sleep apnea."

She says if you're concerned about your child's weight, keep your focus and conversations on his or her overall health.

"It's important for parents to provide the entire family, including themselves, with healthy choices," says Dr. Biggs.

She suggests you set reliable times for meals and snacks, and eat them at a table or counter in a room free of distracting technology.

"We're just more mindful when the electronics are off," says Dr. Biggs.

Include fruits with breakfast, and fruits and vegetables with lunch and dinner. Keep healthy snacks visible in the kitchen and the refrigerator. Avoid sugary drinks. And, finally, encourage exercise through example.