Obesity,Diabetes Increasing in Valley Children


POSTED: Friday, March 16, 2012 - 3:28pm

UPDATED: Friday, March 16, 2012 - 3:29pm

"Obesity seems to be rampant," says Pediatrician, Dr. Melanio Villarosa.

The epidemic is not limited to the adult population, kids are also packing on the pounds which leads to a slew of other serious health related issues. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are all linked to obesity in children.

According to the lower valley doctor, he estimates that about 1/3 of children in the the Rio Grande Valley are obese. This year alone, he is treating five children with diabetes, a few years ago, he says that would be nearly unheard of.

"The average Hispanic kid snacks about seven times a day," says Dr. Villarosa.

These snacks, definitely not the right kinds; high in sugar, high in sodium and fat. Poor eating habits combined with lack of exercise is making our valley youth overweight.

Unfortunately, for some of his patients, intervention doesn't occur until a health problem arises and a child is brought in to his office. He says some parents are simply oblivious to their child's weight gain.

"I would tell them, "Ok, do you think your child has a weight problem?" and many of the parents say no, and they can't see there is a weight problem because they themselves have a weight problem so they don't see it," says the pediatrician.

While Dr. Villarosa can set a child's diet, set up a workout routine, it's ultimately still up to the parent to enforce the healthy lifestyle and eating habits, after all, they're the ones who usually buy the groceries and set the example.

The doctor stresses the importance of the “5-2-1-0 Rule” to his young patients: five fruits and veggies a day, no more than two hours of sedentary activity, this includes being on the internet or sitting in front of the TV, one hour of physical activity is a must and no sodas or juices at all, zero! The doctor says water is best.

Even with the simple rule, he often sees little change.

"Part of it is the parents are not listening at all, so this is a big epidemic, a big problem in the valley," says Dr. Villarosa.

He says until parents start making changes as a family, valley children are going to continue to get larger and will continue to develop health related issues, issues that will eventually really affect their quality of life.

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