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Expert shares ways parents can help battle childhood obesity

There are online tools that can help, including a Child and Teen BMI Calculator.

SAN ANTONIO — Childhood obesity is an epidemic in South Texas. Doctors say more children are getting Type-2 diabetes at younger ages now more than ever before.

September is childhood obesity month. It is also the one-and-a-half year mark of the pandemic that only made childhood obesity that much more of a battle to wage.

Dr. Cynthia Cantu from UT Health San Antonio-Primary Care told us, "Children were more sedentary. Watching a lot of TV playing video games in addition to their eating habits change."  

But now, part of the problem, for many -- the habits still haven't changed. Instead of taking advantage of free healthy school lunches, many older kids are going off campus and eating junk food. Dr. Cantu added, "We see lots of fast food to get to; a lot of the Big Red is an issue. And so we continue to see an increase in association with other conditions that they're developing."  

According to the CDC, obesity affects 14.4 million children and adolescents. They also say 13.4% of 2-to-5-year-olds, 20.3 % of 6-to-11-year-olds and 21.2% of 12-to-19-year-olds are considered obese. 

Among these numbers, 25.6% of Hispanic children are obese. 

So how do we get these numbers down? Dr. Cantu answered, "If the whole family makes changes, children will feel that their parents are doing the same thing and may not question it as much if they see them exercising and also eating healthier. Eliminating those high sugary drinks, the desserts and incorporating more vegetables and healthy fruits." 

You can learn how obesity is measured in children on the CDC website here.

You can use the CDC's Child and Teen BMI Calculator to screen your child for potential weight issues here.

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