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Children's Health

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Child/Teen Obesity Rate Bad, Not Worse

Child Obesity Plateaus: 11% of Kids Heaviest of Heavy; 32% Still Overweight

Child Obesity: Good News to Come? continued...

Instead, Passehl says, the entire family has to get on board -- and to begin with small changes. If everyone in the family is drinking sugary soft drinks all day long, it will just be an exercise in frustration to try to stop drinking soda. But slightly cutting back on sodas might be an achievable goal. And once family members achieve one success, their sense of accomplishment lets them build up to other successes.

The main focus of Passehl's program is to divide responsibilities for weight loss between the parents and the children. For example, it is the parent's job to put healthy food on the table -- and not to provide snacks all day long. It is the child's job to come to the table and to choose from the food that is there -- without running to the refrigerator to gobble unhealthy food.

One trick Passehl uses is to teach the children about nutrition, and then have them teach their parents.

"This is where you want your kids to be. You want them to take better charge of their health," she says. "So when kids educate their parents, the kids have the opportunity to embrace the message themselves. I don't want them to make changes because I told them to. I want them to make changes based on their own ability to decide."

Have America's children made enough of these decisions to turn the tide of the child obesity epidemic? We may know in a year or so. Ogden's team already is crunching the next set of numbers.

The CDC report appears in the May 28 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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