How does childhood obesity work?

Connecting with Your Health Care Provider

When it comes to cutting childhood obesity off at the pass, your first step is not to point fingers. Obesity arises from a variety of factors. Self-blame is not only unproductive, but also unfounded [source: Healthy Children]. Once you've kicked the blame to the curb, you're ready to move forward in a strategic manner. It's time to visit your child's health care provider.

During the visit, your health care provider may perform blood sugar and cholesterol tests. He or she will also be looking for some background information from you. For example, be prepared to provide information about your family's medical history, your child's eating habits and activity levels and any medications your child already takes.

Don't think that the conversation is a one-sided chat, though. This is also your chance to ask questions. Consider asking your provider for access to education materials on childhood obesity, things you can do at home to help your child and what treatment options are available.

For young children under 7, future chances of growth might make the goal of those treatment options to maintain weight rather than losing it. Obese children older than 7 and adolescents will likely have slow weight-loss goals -- maybe 1 pound a week or even a month [source: Mayo Clinic].

To achieve these goals, lifestyle changes -- improved diet and increased physical activity -- will come into play. Although medications are available, they aren't commonly used for children and adolescents. In addition, surgical avenues are reserved for special circumstances -- adolescents who are extremely obese and previously unsuccessful in their weight-loss efforts. Throughout treatment, also keep in mind that fad diets and so-called quick fixes are dangerous for your child. Instead, together with your health care provider, you can move forward with safe, effective weight management tactics.

So what lifestyle changes, or healthy habits, are linked with getting the upper hand on your child's weight?