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Childhood Obesity Specialist

Ludlow Pediatrics

Pediatrics located in Ludlow, MA

As many as 1 in 5 American children and young adults weigh more than is healthy, making childhood obesity a serious national problem. Robert J. Willis, MD, FAAP, of Ludlow Pediatrics serves the children and families of Ludlow, Massachusetts, helping to prevent and treat childhood obesity. For expert consultation and personalized plan to encourage a healthy weight throughout your child’s lifetime, call or schedule an appointment online today.

Childhood Obesity Q & A

What is childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is a condition that affects nearly 20% of American children. An obese child is someone younger than 21 who has a higher than normal weight for their age and height.

Your child’s weight and rate of weight gain fluctuate significantly throughout their childhood. Dr. Willis and his team use a measurement called the body mass index (BMI) to determine what a healthy weight range for your child would be.

Why is childhood obesity a problem?

Obese children are 70% more likely to become obese adults, placing them at significant risk of chronic diseases like:

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety and depression

Obese children often struggle with low self-esteem, which can affect how they learn and interact socially.

What causes childhood obesity?

Children of obese parents are at a much higher risk of being obese, which is why healthy family habits are the best way to protect your child’s health, especially if you’re overweight yourself.

Other factors that contribute to unhealthy weight include:

  • A high intake of sugary drinks, including juice and soda
  • A diet low in or lacking fruits and vegetables
  • A diet high in salt, fat, and sugar
  • A high intake of processed foods
  • A sedentary or inactive lifestyle
  • Spending an extended amount of time looking at screens
  • A stressful family culture
  • A childhood trauma

As a parent, you can help prevent childhood obesity and reduce your child’s risk of long-term complications of this serious health problem.

How can I help prevent childhood obesity?

You can help prevent childhood obesity in your family by nurturing healthy habits at home. Some of these habits include:

  • Encouraging drinking water and low-fat milk
  • Limiting or eliminating access to sugary drinks
  • Encouraging five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Providing healthy snack and meal choices
  • Eating as many meals as possible at home (no fast food)
  • Including physical activity during family time
  • Avoiding using food as a reward
  • Devoting at least one hour a day to outdoors play
  • Limiting screen time to two hours a day

Dr. Willis and the team at Ludlow Pediatrics support your efforts to keep your child as healthy as possible by providing services that promote a healthy weight. These services include nutritional counseling, behavioral therapy, healthy meal plans, activity plans, and ongoing education.

For a personalized plan to prevent or treat childhood obesity, call or schedule an appointment online with Ludlow Pediatrics today.