Q: I was a fat kid, so I’ve worked hard (sometimes) to stay at a healthy weight as an adult. Now I have a 4-year-old, and he’s becoming overweight, too. I don’t want him to have to go through the same struggle. Help!
SUSIE R., Akron, Ohio
A: A new study reveals that around half of children who are overweight before age 5 are on a fast track for obesity. And these kids are developing health problems we used to see only in adults: high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and elevated lousy LDL cholesterol.
Five basic steps can turn this around.
1. Walk or exercise with your child for two hours a day; you’ll get healthier, too, and build a closer relationship.
2. Limit screen time: Kids under age 2 should have NONE.
3. Remove unhealthy treats and syrup- and sugar-added foods and beverages from the house. No artificially sweetened drinks, either; they just promote your child’s taste for sweet sodas.
4. Cook from “almost scratch.” Dish up healthy breakfasts; another study found that kids who skip breakfast or have an unhealthy one are 68 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and face the consequences of becoming an obese adult.
5. Stay positive. Talk to your child about the importance of eating right, so he can accomplish whatever he sets his sights on. A child is never too young to understand that you love him and want him to feel and do his best.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.