DANVILLE, Pa. — Doctors at Geisinger are concerned by what they say is an increase in obesity among preschool-aged children.
"Kids are gaining weight at faster rates, and in some populations, it's double what it was before the pandemic," said Dr. Jennifer Franceschelli Hosterman, who is studying the reasons.
"Kids lost some of their access to consistent healthy meals. They lost their school sports. Some parks were closed. They really lost some of those resources of activity, food. and they lost their routines."
Geisinger is in the midst of a three-year study of several approaches to prevent obesity in preschool-aged children. The "encircle study" starts at a child's well visit. Parents will get a questionnaire.
"Helps to assess, of course, nutrition-related behaviors, but also physical activity, sleep behaviors, screen-time behaviors. All of these have been shown to be higher risk for developing obesity."
That is followed by two more surveys, six and 12 months apart. Parents can get up to $200 for participating. The doctor says parents can help prevent obesity by starting small and talking to their kids about potential changes and goals.
"The more that we involve our kids in these healthy changes, the more they will go along with them."
Dr. Franceschelli Hosterman also recommends increasing movement, fruits, and vegetables, along with decreasing screen time and sugary foods and drinks.
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