20 Percent of Kids Are Overweight or Obese Before Age 5

Health & Wellness on 07.01.11


Addressing obesity isn't something that parents should put off until the teen years, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine: 20 percent of children are already overweight or obese by the time they're between the ages of 2 and 5.

CNN's The Chart blog reported on the Institute of Medicine's new guidelines, which are designed to target and prevent childhood obesity. Some of their tips are aimed at doctors -- like monitoring kids whose height and weight are above the 85 percentile and taking into account the parents' weight -- and others are focused at parents, though they won't be news to most of us: 


  • Toddlers and preschool children should be encouraged to be physically active throughout the day.  They should have outdoor playtime, access to playground or open grass, and an adequate indoor play environment too.
  • Sleep duration that is age appropriate should be encouraged because a lack of sleep is a risk factor for obesity
  • Children should be fed a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low or non-fat dairy that are age-appropriate and in healthy portions since food preferences can be shaped during infancy.


The Institute also called on the government to create nutrition guidelines for children younger than 2.

"What happens early in children's development has an impact on later health,” said committee chair Leann Birch “Rapid weight gain and obesity early can increase risk of obesity and chronic disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes later in life.”

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