Ascension Wisconsin pediatrician shares five ways to lower your child’s risk for obesity | Ascension

Ascension Wisconsin pediatrician shares five ways to lower your child’s risk for obesity

Margaret M. Hennessy, MD, a pediatrician with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin, shares how you can help your child live a healthier lifestyle.

September is childhood obesity awareness month, shining a light on a serious issue in the United States. According to the CDC, nearly 20% of American children and teens, ages six to 19, are at an unhealthy weight. 

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being. The best way to prevent your child from these potential problems is through healthy lifestyle habits, including nutritious eating and physical activity, which can lower their risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.

Margaret M. Hennessy, MD, a pediatrician with Ascension Wisconsin in Racine, WI, shares four ways you can encourage your child, and entire family, to live a healthier lifestyle. 

1. Model a healthy lifestyle

Genetics and family lifestyle play a role when it comes to obesity prevention and treatment. As a parent, you can help your child maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods yourself. Educating kids on how to eat a well-balanced meal, is the first step in creating that habit for a child. 

2. Introduce your child to a well-balanced variety of healthy foods 

Find ways to make sure your child has the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal. To help your child learn how to eat a well-balanced meal, consider using The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, My Plate , as a visual cue of portion sizes. My Plate gives recommendations on how best to divide your plate to achieve a well-balanced meal complete with fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. 

3. Limit sugary drinks

One o the simplest things that can go a long way in your child’s health is limiting sugary drinks. Excess sugar without a well-balanced diet can lead to unintended weight gain. 

For older children, soda drinking and sports drinks contribute most to the intake of those sugary drinks. Cutting back on these beverages can significantly impact children and teens when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. 

4. Be active as a family 

Exercise is a key factor in preventing childhood obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. 

Medical professionals always recommend exercise. However, this does not always have to be in the form of an organized sport. Doing yard work, housework or putting on music and dancing together as a family are great ways to squeeze exercise into your child’s daily routine. 

Reducing your child’s screen time and encouraging them to play outside can help too. Decreasing screen time and encouraging 60 minutes of physical activity will improve your child’s health. 

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

If your child is struggling with obesity, schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. Ascension Wisconsin pediatricians can assess where your child is at in their health journey and offer a variety of options for next steps. 

Start a conversation with a doctor who listens 

Compassionate care teams are ready to Ascension Wisconsin offer medically supervised weight-loss programs for children and adults. Learn more and schedule your appointment today.