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Presenters talk about child obesity at pediatrics conference
By Associated Press, 10/20/2002 20:21
BOSTON -- Children innately know how much they should eat and are at risk for childhood obesity when their parents force them to eat more, according to a presenter at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference in Boston.
"Children know how much they need to eat and they tend to grow in a predictable fashion," said Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian from Madison, Wis. and author of several books on eating and feeding. "But when parents try to struggle with the children's eating, it disrupts the child's sense of regulation."
That does not include snacking between meals, she said. But once the parent puts the food on the table, children can decide how much is right for them, she explained on Sunday.
"The child knows to eat as much or as little as he or she needs. When the parent tries to restrict or force the child to eat, that's where the problems start," she said.
Satter presented along with Dr. Robert Murray, a childhood obesity expert who addressed school-based obesity issues. He discussed how school breakfast and lunch programs can improve students' diets and cut rates of cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis.
"If we can put a more healthy student in the chair, we are putting a better student in the chair," said Murray, a doctor at the Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio and member of the academy committee on school health.
The conference, which started Saturday, continues through Wednesday.
Fifteen percent of American youngsters are severely overweight or obese. Murray said that an obese six-year old has a 50 percent chance of obesity as an adult, and that the percentage grows with age.
He said using school menus to prevent obesity and related diseases would be most effective, since children spend most of their day there.
"We spend over $120 billion a year on treating obesity and related diseases. This approach can help save thousands of dollars," Murray said.