Over the past three decades there has been a rapid rise in the incidence of childhood obesity. Current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates suggest that up to one-third of all youth in the United States are either over-weight or at risk. The prevalence in certain ethnic groups is even higher. Childhood obesity has clearly reached the point of being an epidemic public health concern.
Unfortunately the issue of childhood obesity can no longer be looked at from a cosmetic perspective. Along with the high prevalence of obesity among youth, conditions such as: type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol and joint pain which were once considered adult diseases are becoming more common in the pediatric population. This will have a large impact on the long term health of our country. Recent reports now suggest that this generation of youth will be the first in history to have a lower life expectancy than the previous generation. This is in large part because when young people develop these diseases the disease course is worse. Not only do they deal with the health problem for a potentially longer time but the progression to complications, both short and long term is faster in children.
Although the potential disease-specific complications are important, we now know that childhood obesity by itself is a predictor of early death, independent of other conditions. In fact, in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article it was found that a child who is overweight has a greater likelihood of premature death than one with high cholesterol, making obesity an independent predictor of early mortality.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all overweight or at risk children be screened for the medical conditions associated with obesity. This will hopefully allow for earlier interventions aimed at prevention rather than treatment of disease. As pediatric endocrinologists, we would much rather see a child who is developing insulin resistance in the office to discuss preventing diabetes than in the hospital when it is too late and they are quite sick.
In an attempt to address this problem head on at MIMA we have created the MIMA JUST FOR KIDS program. This is a multi-disciplinary program involving a pediatric endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, dedicated nutritionist and exercise physiologist in partnership with the Lifeshape program currently used for adults with morbid obesity. We hope to address childhood obesity long before secondary complications arise.
We have developed a program where: MIMA’s Pediatric Endocrinologists Set Kids on a Healthy Course!
With the growing population of obese, sedentary youngsters, fitness and healthy eating are necessary components of a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of a regular exercise program for kids is vital to their health and development. This is where a Pediatric Endocrinologist can help. Getting started can be the hardest part of the process. JUST FOR KIDS is an easy to follow format that teaches children the way to better nutrition, fitness, and wellness. A daily routine of fitness and health will instill in them healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
The keys to success include nutritional counseling to help them establish a healthy eating regimen designed specifically for each child. A fitness screening with a baseline fitness assessment, defined goals, parental and family, and regular assessments to ensure progress. Wellness Training through individual and group sessions to meet each child’s comfort level while they work toward their fitness goals. A visit to the pediatric specialist is crucial to the success of the program. A referral from a Pediatrician or Family Practitioner to a MIMA Pediatric Endocrinologist for the “Just For Kids” program will start them on the way.
A Pediatric Endocrinologist is a pediatric specialist who treats not only diabetes and other metabolic disorders but is an expert on pre-diabetic conditions that result from being overweight. At the first appointment the Pediatric Endocrinologist and a Nutritionist will meet with the child and parent to launch the design of a healthy eating regimen that fits the family lifestyle. Children tend to be most successful when the family is involved. At a subsequent visit the parent and child will meet with a Personal Trainer for screening and to discuss an age-appropriate fitness
program tailored to meet each specific need. Follow-up visits will include individual and group meetings to reinforce the wellness training
as well as check-ups with the doctor to measure clinical progress.
Dr. Omar Hudson and Dr. John Duncan
To learn more, contact MIMA Pediatric Endocrinology at 321-725-4500 ext. 3682.