Rules of thumb: Three simple ideas for overcoming childhood obesity

Kristopher Kaliebe, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, offers parents and caregivers three simple family-oriented goals to overcome the complex problem of childhood obesity and related mental disorders. They involve limit setting to address the brain's "get more" drive strengthened through habitual over-consumption of temptations including highly caloric processed food, hyper-reality media and electronics, as well as excessive sitting. His 3 "rules" of living promote physical and mental health for children and parents for both treatment and prevention. They are published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

"The pediatric obesity crisis arose from systemic changes in society and multiple dynamic interacting risk factors," notes Dr. Kaliebe. "It has been paralleled by increased problems that seem interrelated."

Childhood obesity correlates with attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, and academic underperformance as well as increased internalizing and externalizing disorders.

"Moreover, many behavior patterns associated with obesity, such as sedentary lifestyles, excessive media exposure, and inappropriate diets, also correlate with a psychiatric diagnosis or psychological distress," says Dr. Kaliebe.

His "rules," meant to facilitate healthy choices, are straightforward and practical.

1. Eat Food – Not too Much, Mostly Plants. Dr. Kaliebe explains that eating natural, unprocessed, raw food eliminates the constant need to calculate calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, etc. – a reason diets fail. This rule also advises severely restricting foods like chips, sodas and fast food.

2. Get Up and Move. Noting that humans are not built to sit for much of the day, Dr. Kaliebe says children as well as parents need to find excuses to move whenever possible and be especially active during leisure time.

3. Honor Silence. Dr. Kaliebe says sensory overload and "noise" from popular culture, gaming, advertising, media and electronics crowds out important things such as family matters, academics, sleep, and the development of other interests. "Habits have profound effects," concludes Dr. Kaliebe. "Celebrations, such as birthday parties, are less meaningful. Don't stress over the occasional special treat, but be strict about everyday routines."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Junk food may lead to mental health problems in children

Aug 20, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—New research suggests that mums with unhealthy diets during pregnancy are more likely to have children with behavioural problems. It has also shown that children with unhealthy diets have increased symptoms ...

Study finds parental stress linked to obesity in children

Dec 06, 2013

Parental stress is linked to weight gain in children, according to a new study from St. Michael's Hospital. The study found that children whose parents have high levels of stress have a Body Mass Index, or BMI, about 2 per ...

Recommended for you

When you lose weight, where does the fat go?

20 hours ago

Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a UNSW Australia study shows.

Shed post-Christmas pounds just by breathing

20 hours ago

Ever wondered where the fat goes when somebody loses weight? Most of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide, making the lungs the primary excretory organ for weight loss, explain Australian researchers in the ...

Post-bariatric surgery weight loss may ease knee pain

Dec 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—Current evidence, though limited, suggests that bariatric surgery with subsequent marked weight loss may reduce knee complaints in morbidly obese adults, according to research published online ...

Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children

Dec 11, 2014

Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality.

Obese children's brains more responsive to sugar

Dec 11, 2014

A new study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine finds that the brains of obese children literally light up differently when tasting sugar.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.