ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – According to a new study, children who are overweight when they start kindergarten, are four times more likely to be obese by their teen years.
Along with the rest of the nation, childhood obesity is a battle being fought in New Mexico. Nearly 15 percent of kids ages 2 to 5 are overweight.
Doctors say the key to tackling the issue of childhood obesity is prevention. Preschool age is not too young to start an exercise routine.
The study says over 30 percent of overweight kids in kindergarten were obese by age 14, compared to eight percent of normal-weight kids.
Dr. John Iacuone, the Chief Medical Officer at Lovelace Hospitals, says it’s our culture contributing to the problem, with bad eating habits and sedentary activities like video games. He says the best thing to prevent weight issues is to get the whole family into a routine.
“When you start having babies and getting a family habit of running, walking, go to the park. It doesn’t have to be massive exercise– just go walk around the neighborhood,” Dr. Iacuone said.
One of the easiest ways kids can get their required exercise is in school, starting in preschool.
An Albuquerque preschool teacher says he makes sure physical activity is a significant lesson every day.
“Every day we’re adding something. The environment always changes. With pre-k the important thing is the environment and what they’re learning from it, like what they can and can’t do with their bodies,” said Chris Ortiz, preschool teacher at Horizon Academy West.
Overall, doctors recommend kids get an hour and a half of exercise every day in order to prevent obesity in their teens.
The study also says birth weight may be connected with obesity later in life. It can also be the root of everything from diabetes to heart disease.
KRQE Story - Interview with Dr. John Iacuone on childhood obesity