Overweight Four-Year-Olds? New Study Says that 1 out of Every 5 Is Obese

Posted April 9, 2009 by

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A new study came out this week that said that 1 out of every 5 four-year-olds in America is obese. (That’s a little over 18 percent of the kids who participated in this ethnically-diverse sampling, and children of color are at an even higher risk.)

In an article on CNN.com, researchers pointed out that kids are now becoming overweight even before they run across vending machines, soda pop, and the serious junk food binges that many teens and pre-teens get into.

Part of the weight-gain in this young age group has to do with the fact that kids are spending less time being active and more time in front of the TV. Obesity this young is disturbing because it can actually lead to heart disease, diabetes and even strokes among children, said Dr. Tom Robinson, Director for the Center for Healthy Weight at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Experts also agree that it’s much harder to lose weight later on in life if you start out with an obesity problem as a young child.

If your child needs to lose weight:

A few tips offered by Michael Rich, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, in the CNN article:

  • Don’t make excuses for your child and compare him or her to other kids who may be heavier.
  • Focus on being healthy, not on obesity. Keep it positive.
  • Switch from soda, juice and other sugary drinks to water.
  • Try to make sure your child gets at least one hour of exercise per day.

We are already starting to cut down on the sugary drinks in our house, and offering water and milk more often. What do you do to keep your child healthy? Any nutritional changes your family is contemplating? Please share your ideas…I think most of us could stand to make a few changes this spring!


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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