Childhood Obesity. Let’s Focus on Successes

Written by Joanna E. Betancourt MD., FAAP

First Lady Michelle Obama has decided to tackle a very important health issue that is affecting children in the US. That issue is Obesity.

I’m glad she is bringing awareness with her “Let’s Move!”  campaign because the data is staggering.

In America, more than 1 in 3 children and adolescents is overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, obesity in children under age 11 has tripled since 1980 from 6.5 to 19.6 percent, and obesity in adolescents (ages 12-18) went from 5 to 18.1 percent.

Weight is the No. 1 health issue facing US children today, and with “data for adults suggesting that overweight prevalence has increased by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years” it is imperative that we address this issue.

At age seven, I diagnosed a patient in our office with obesity. As part of our comprehensive care, we coordinated services with a nutritionist and an endocrinologist. The patient was showing signs of high insulin; which usually precedes the development of diabetes among other health concerns.

Four years later, countless visits to the endocrinologist, and numerous consultation with a nutritionist, her BMI (body mass index), which was above the 95th percentile, came down to the 75th percentile.

Today, I saw the patient in my office again where I shared and celebrated the progress she had made. After seeing her I felt, that after all, what we do is worth it…. 1 kid at a time! Because of her progress and the effort of the clinical care team, and the benefits of our patient centered medical home, the patient has a much lower risk of developing diabetes and a much higher chance of being a healthy adult.

Just like we ought to bring awareness to childhood obesity, we should also bring awareness to the children and their families that have worked hard to lose weight and adopt healthy lifestyles by celebrating their successes. Good for her and her family! Lots of hard work still ahead! But it is paying off. Thus, we should celebrate!

Dr. Betancourt practices in Algonquin IL. This post was originally posted on her practice’s blog. As a pediatrician, one of Dr. Betancourt’s many goals is to help every child reach his or her full potential.