From resolution to resolute

By now, many of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. We said we’d go to the gym every day — now it’s down to once a week … sometimes. We said we would eat better — but mac and cheese looks so good when it’s cold outside. And that’s OK. Because now it’s time to throw away those “resolutions” and instead, get resolute in your determination to make 2016 a healthier year for you and your family.

It’s especially important to get children on the right track, by managing their weight. Not only do any extra pounds they carry impact them now in a number of ways, they will also have an impact on their future health and well-being. There are a couple of key areas that can tell you if there is a problem you need to address.

Weight gain

Has your child gained more than 10 pounds this year? That could be a red flag. Talk to your child’s doctor the next time you have an appointment about your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI). This measurement is based on your child’s height and weight and allows the doctor to see how they compare with other children their age on a growth chart. This can let you know if your child is at risk for obesity.

“According to the 2014 Dayton Children’s Community Health Needs Assessment, the majority of parents of overweight and obese children do not perceive their children as having any weight problem,” says James Ebert, MD, lead physician for the lipid clinic at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “It’s hard to identify when a child is overweight because heavier weights have become more common and therefore normalized in our society.”

Trouble keeping up or pain

Does your child have trouble breathing during activities? Does she find it hard to keep up to the other kids during kickball or tag? Maybe he can breathe okay, but your child complains of pain in their knees or ankles when he runs. These are other areas of concern.

Many parents might not realize that overweight and obese kids often have weight-related problems during childhood. This could mean that your child is at risk for any of the diseases typically associated with childhood obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep problems, frequent headaches, liver disease and arthritis.

It’s not just physical symptoms, either. Kids who are overweight often suffer from anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. They may be bullied or face discrimination.

What can you do?

Although genetics or hormones can play a role, most of the time childhood obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. “Ask your physician about some strategies to help your child become healthier,” says Dr. Ebert. “The sooner you can begin developing healthy habits the sooner you can begin to address weight challenges.”