Join Atrium Health Navicent in Observing Pediatric Obesity Awareness Month

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

 In observance of Pediatric Obesity Awareness Month, Atrium Health Navicent encourages parents to make healthy eating habits and exercise a priority for their children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14.4 million children and adolescents in the U.S. suffer from obesity, and 19.3 percent of children are considered obese. In Georgia, 31.3 percent of children ages 10-17 are obese, according to America’s Health Rankings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers childhood obesity one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century and childhood obesity rates have tripled in the U.S. over the past 30 years.

The CDC defines childhood obesity as adolescents with a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. Obesity can harm nearly every system in a child’s body including heart and lungs, muscles and bones and the hormones that control blood sugar and puberty. Being obese increases a child’s risk for type 2 diabetes, and obese children might be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the WHO.

“In the last year and a half since the pandemic began, we have seen a large increase in number of new onset type 2 diabetes in adolescents. In the hospital, our number of patients has basically doubled for children needing admission to start on insulin with new onset type 2 diabetes. The rates of obesity and abnormal weight gain, greater than 20 pounds in less than a year for many, have also been on the rise. Many children have been eating more processed foods and have been less active with trying to social distance and learn virtually,” said Dr. Jessica R. Hutchins, an Atrium Health Navicent Pediatric Endocrinologist.

Too much screen time, eating foods high in fat and sugar and poor sleep routines also contribute to weight gain in children. Fortunately, parents can help their children get back on track by taking steps such as:

  • Eating healthier: Fill your child’s plate with fruit and vegetables in place of sugary foods or snacks. 

  • Drinking water: Make sure water is available as a no-calorie alternative to sodas or juice.

  • Exercising daily: Help your children get 60 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise not only burns calories, but leads to better academic achievement, higher quality sleep and reduced feelings of anxiety.

  • Getting enough sleep: Get your child to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends, and remove electronic devices at bedtime. Proper sleep can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.

  • Setting a good example: Be a role model of healthy eating, exercise and sleep for your children. 

To find a doctor, visit and click “Find a Doctor.”