A study by the Institute of Medicine has confirmed the obvious – fat babies and toddlers grow up to be fat adults. A review of height, weight and body mass index showed that statistically an overweight baby will more than likely remain overweight as he or she grows into adulthood.
The implications from this review are alarming. Increased Type 2 Diabetes in children, orthopedic problems, and heart disease becoming prevalent in younger and younger adults. Many of the recommendations of the institute are aimed at changing behavior and conclude that the reason obesity begets obesity is not physiologic or genetic, but because children learn early that this type of behavior is normal. If a poor lifestyle is “normal” for them, changing behaviors as they get older will be much harder. Losing weight will be a problem as a teenager or adult.
The recommendations issued by the Institute of Medicine are as follows:
– Closely monitor height, weight and body mass index at every pediatrician visit.
– Parents and child care providers should provide opportunities for children and young infants to be physically active throughout the day.
– Communities should provide indoor and outdoor recreation areas to encourage children to be active.
– Parents and child care providers should limit the use of equipment that restricts infant movement and use cribs, car seats, and high chairs for their primary purpose only.
– Ensure children will eat healthy by limiting sweets and fatty snacks.
– Limit “screen time” to less than two hours total time on computers, television and cell phones for children between the ages of two to five.
– Ensure children get adequate sleep.
By following these recommendations, the institute believes that the risks of obesity can be addressed and resolved before health deteriorates.