Dr Caitlin Feth, Resident of the Month - Sept



Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has increased at a concerning rate both in the United States as a whole and in Pennsylvania. The number of obese children is 2 times what it was 30 years ago and 4 times what it was for teenagers.

  • In the United States

◦                   18% of children ages 6-11 are overweight or obese

◦                   21% of adolescents ages 12-19 are overweight or obese

  • In Pennsylvania the numbers are even higher

◦                   32.6% of children grades K-6 are overweight or obese

◦                   34.1% of adolescents grades 7-12 are overweight or obese

Being overweight or obese can lead to a number of medical problems both as a child and later in life. These problems include liver problems, high blood pressure, asthma, knee or back pain, and sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep). As an adult this can put you at higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.


What causes obesity?

A number of different things can cause obesity. Rarely certain medicines or health issues can cause this. Your family doctor can help determine if these medical problems may be present. However, poor diet and sedentary lifestyles are the major cause of childhood obesity.

Luckily, these things we have control over and can modify to help prevent or treat obesity. Below are a few things that we can do to help our children:

  • healthy diets (providing healthy choices for meals, limiting snacking, limiting sodas and sugary drinks, eating together as a family at the table)
  • exercising (children should have 60 minutes of exercise and physical activity every day, limiting "screen" time with TVs, computers, and cell phones, joining in physical activities together as a family)

What is our role as your family doctor and how can we help you through the Washington Health System?

As your family doctor it is our job to screen your children for obesity at every visit by measuring height and weight. It is important even after the ages of vaccines to have your children's well visits every year to ensure that we can catch this problem early. There are a number of programs available to help counteract obesity including nutritionists and the Wellness center here within our health system. We as family doctors can also help provide you with tools at home to help prevent and treat obesity as well.

Please contact your family doctor if you have questions or concerns regarding your children.


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