Parents must play a role in preventing childhood obesity

May 18, 2012

As physicians who treat overweight children in Maryland daily, we strongly support the views expressed by Horizon Foundation CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick in her recent commentary on childhood obesity ("A healthier way to snack," May 15). We urge parents to speak with their pediatricians about healthy food and beverage options for their children.

We further suggest that parents advocate for their child's school to provide healthy alternatives to sugary foods and beverages that are often found in vending machines and school cafeterias. The more parents become aware of ads aimed at children that glamorize overly sugared drinks and foods, the more they will be able to resist their kids' pleas for such products.

Finally, we urge parents to ask their pediatricians about their child's Body Mass Index and to discuss with their health-care provider ways to ensure their child has a BMI appropriate for their age and height. Encouraging parents to take these important measures and to partner with their doctors will help ensure the future health of Maryland's children.

Scott Krugman, Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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