Obesity among children in the United States is more common than ever before. Obese children who have at least one obese parent are especially at risk. Less physical activity, more television watching, and bad eating habits are also contributing factors, reports Correspondent Sandra Maas of CBS News affiliate KFMB-TV in San Diego.
The Family Weight Control and Prevention program in San Diego is hoping to reverse the pattern of obese kids turning into obese adults.
Overweight children are more likely to have health problems at an early age. Even those who lose weight as adolescents may still have complications in adulthood.
"We're finding that kids are having high blood pressure at an earlier age and they're carrying risk factors into adulthood. In fact, we know that overweight adolescents have health risks even if they become lean adults," says Dr. Saelens.
A steady diet of cookies, chips, and soda can lead to problems down the road. To prevent this, the Family Weight Control program uses a team approach to help both kids and parents learn healthier eating habits.
"Parents are more motivated for their children, they make changes for their children, and that in turn helps them lose weight," says Dr. Brian Saelens of the Family Weight Control and Prevention Program.
Eight-year old Eric was enrolled in the program after he gained 17 pounds within a year. He is now more active and has lost ten pounds.
"Because we were in a weight program together, I felt I needed to make healthier choices too because I was being a role model, so I think it really worked well for the both of us." says Eric's mother.
"We got to learn about stuff like what kind of food is good for us, what kind of food is not good for us," says Eric.
In hopes of reducing the increasing number of obese children, the center will soon launch the largest study of its kind on the causes of childhood obesity.