ANNOUNCER: When the charts show a child is overweight, treatment usually revolves around diet, exercise and patterns of behavior in the family.
BETH TAYLOR: I think the best starting point for intervention is looking at what's offered to the child at home by the parents, so it's educating the parents.
SAMUEL KLEIN, MD: I think treating children who are obese requires a family commitment and requires parents to be directly involved. It's not effective by just treating the child alone, and everyone who eats from the same refrigerator needs to be involved in the therapeutic process.
BETH TAYLOR: What parents can do at the table at home is offer choices of a variety of foods, as far as like fruits and vegetables and meats, lower-fat choices. And also watching the amounts of what they eat. And also by showing by example. A parent that sits down and eats a healthy meal himself, that child will see that and help learn by example.
ANNOUNCER: Encouraging physical activity must also be part of a successful strategy in helping children who are overweight.
SAMUEL KLEIN, MD: The first thing parents should do is really to decrease television viewing and sedentary activities at home. So watching TV, being on the computer should be limited. Parents should also establish increased physical activity behaviors with them and their children. So go out for walks on a regular basis after dinner, embark on family activities that increase physical action.
ANNOUNCER: When it comes to dieting, doctors offer similar advice for children as they do for adults.
SAMUEL KLEIN, MD: The dietary approach for anyone who is obese is really reducing calorie intake compared to energy expenditure, and doing it in a way where you eat healthy foods that provide you with all the nutrients that you need, but also foods that will increase your ability to adhere to that diet, as well. And the principles in an adult should not be too much different than the principles in a child, except the child cannot tolerate as well severe calorie restriction.
ANNOUNCER: Despite the prevalence of obesity among children, the solution is remarkably simple: cut calories and increase exercise.
If more families could devise strategies to accomplish those two goals, many more young people could look forward to healthy lives as adults.