Warning have come forward from the American Academy of Pediatrics, urging parents to start controlling child obesity at an earlier age as pediatric obesity has tripled for some age groups.
The 2003 policy statement has been replaced with a new report called “The Role of the Pediatrician in Primary Prevention of Obesity.” The report calls on doctors to develop precautionary methods by educating expectant mothers.
Mothers are recommended to exclusively breastfeed their children for the first six months of their lives and then combine breastfeeding with complimentary foods, until the child is at least 1.
“I think the good that can be done in terms of prevention and early intervention especially down to the young ages, is tremendous compared to the degree of difficulty everyone has when the family, the child and the practitioner are trying hard to work on a child who already has developed obesity,” Dr. Sandra Hassink, AAP president, told AAP News.
The report stresses for pediatricians to record the child’s height and weight, according to the World Health Organization growth chart, from the day the child is born till they are abut 23 months old. From 2 years of age and above, all growth should be recorded using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts.
The report, co-authored by Hassink and Dr. Stephen Daniels, asks pediatricians to be looking out for lack of breastfeeding, family history of obesity and lack of sleep.
“Taking the time to talk about these issues and to talk about them early I think is kind of the key here and using each health maintenance visit as an opportunity to talk about diet and physical activity and plotting out the right way to do things can be very helpful.” Daniels, chair of the Committee on Nutrition, told AAP News
A child’s recommended diet should consist of lean meats, fish, low fat dairy products, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
They should be encouraged to drink tap water instead of sweetened drinks.
Screen time should be restricted to 2 hours per day, and children under two years of age should be kept away from all such devices.
60 minutes of physical exercise per day is also must for all children.
“The report is a wonderful summary of the last decade of work in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity pertinent to pediatricians,” Dr. Stephen Pont, a pediatrician at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, told CBS News.
Pont noted that the report recognizes the role pediatricians can play in improving the health of children due to the interactions they have with the parents. They can encourage and direct parents to help combat childhood obesity.
“I think having a pediatrician sending a really positive message that families can make changes, that those changes can improve health and can help to prevent or reduce obesity if really powerful,” Daniels told AAP News.
The report will appear in the July issue of Pediatrics.