Obesity has been on the rise for decades. A local pediatrician at the Lawton Community Health Center said it’s gone up even more during the pandemic.

According to Shape Your Future OK, Oklahoma has the 4th worst obesity rate in the nation. They report that 1/3 of kids between the ages of 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.

Doctor Anne Fernando, a pediatrician at Lawton Community Health Center, is concerned about what her patients are eating and weighing.

“Of the children I see, almost 50% of the BMI, which is the clinical criteria we use to detect obesity, is increased,” said Dr. Fernando.

She gives parents dietary and nutritional advice.

“I monitor them closely,” she said. “Once every three months, I do screening lab work which is indicated for obesity. I also like to point out to parents that the sooner you take care of the problem, the younger they are, the easier it is.”

Dr. Fernando said parents should think about diseases that may come from obesity.

“So, number one, heart disease,” she said. “That is the prevention. I mean, it’s a major killer all around the world.”

She said it can also lead to an increased risk of hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Dr. Fernando said kids need to be getting protein, carbohydrates, and fruits and veggies.

“Because I go into dietary history in detail in my well-child checks, and I find that most children are lacking in the amount of vegetables that they eat,” Dr. Fernando said. “This could be many reasons. I mean, parents are busy working, they have no time to be shopping for healthy foods, so the child is given pretty much whatever is there, and they tend to miss on their vegetables.”

She said introducing vegetables when kids are young is crucial because you can’t force them to eat it when they’re older.

“Diet is the most important,” she said. “Physical activity is also important. So, we have to balance the two, but I want to stress the fact that diet is the most important.”

Teenagers and kids need one hour of physical activity every day.

“It’s also been noted in the recent years, with video games, TV watching, all these electronics, the children are getting less physical activity,” Dr. Fernando said.

Dr. Fernando said it’s easier to make changes if the whole family understands the problem and gets on board.

“It’s a lifestyle change,” she said. “It’s not something that we do quickly. It’s something we are going to change for the rest of our lives. So, the whole family can get involved so that ways it’s easier for parents to do parenting.”

She said kids need to be going to their yearly well-child checks to make sure doctors can make sure they’re growing and discuss what they’re eating.

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