29.5% of Oklahoma children are considered either overweight or obese. That’s according to childhealthdata.org. Anna Reed is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Lawton Community Health Center, and she said she thinks childhood obesity is something we will always struggle with.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want to acknowledge it,” Reed said. “We don’t want to see it as a problem because we don’t want to say that our kids are not perfect.”
But it is a problem. The CDC said the obesity rate has gone from 10% to 36% over the past 30 years in Oklahoma.
“I’ve seen kids as young as three that are already considered morbidly obese,” Reed said. “To me, that’s devastating because it’s a lifelong road to battle to be healthy.”
Reed said the biggest frustration in her practice is the lack of parental accountability.
“We start in early infancy with healthy lifestyle choices of picking the right foods for our babies and starting them on specific fruits and vegetables before we ever introduce any other foods,” she said. “That is the basis of where it’s at.”
As they get older, some kids are drinking soda every day, but drinking a can a day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese. She said another reason why kids are obese is because of portion size.
“Kids overeat. Everybody overeats,” Reed said. “Portion size is always the size of your hand and not to give kids too big of a plate because kids feel like they should fill that whole plate and then you have parents who are like ‘you took it you have to eat it.’ So, that overeating practice starts early on in life and it’s hard to go back. It’s hard to go back and eat less because it takes time for your stomach to shrink and you’re hungry all the time.”
She says it isn’t all about diet. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle. Because of childhood obesity, she said they’re starting to see more adult health problems in kids.
“Anytime you already have a kiddo that struggles as a toddler with their weight, and that continues throughout their life, that increases their risk of getting cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and diabetes,” Reed said. “Those are things that don’t get better with adopting a healthy lifestyle, they get easier managed, but they don’t go away.”
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, you can talk to your child’s doctor. Reed suggest going to this website to see exactly how much you and your kid should be eating.