LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in five children struggle with obesity
And Kathleen Winston, UNLV graduate and Dean of the University of Phoenix College of Nursing, says that number has increased drastically from around 4% in 1975.
"What's important to just understand is that this has been a long-standing problem," Winston said.
She says obesity, especially among young people, can make breathing problems like asthma and flu-like illnesses worse and increase the risk of kids developing type-2 diabetes.
"Every organ of the body is impacted when we are overweight," Winston said. "It becomes surrounded by the fat and the fat compresses those organs."
Winston says for most kids losing weight comes down to a simple equation of consuming fewer calories than they expend through exercise or play.
She said it's not always easy for children to lose weight, but parents can build good habits into their daily schedule to turn what some kids would consider work into a fun activity.
"When we look at these examples of the past where children were outside playing, they didn't think about that as exercise or a way to keep the weight off. It was just a lifestyle," she said.
Winston says preventing weight gain is much easier than attempting to break bad habits and shed the pounds especially if kids are developing bad habits during a period where they're still developing mentally.
The best way to work with a child on their weight issues without shaming them is to practice good habits as a parent along with them, according to Winston.
She says a few simple tips to start a weight loss journey is to make kids eat five different vegetables a day and limit screen time to a maximum of two hours a day.