URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Weight loss diets and surgeries used to be worries that didn’t live in childhood. Now, doctors said obesity in children and teenagers is becoming more common, and it’s happening in Central Illinois, too.

The days of seeing childhood obesity as a personal problem are behind us, said the American Academy of Pediatrics. Doctors said that finding a medical solution for this problem is no different than offering an inhaler for someone who has asthma.

No longer is it just stomach aches and colds bringing kids into the doctor’s office. Pediatricians are seeing more cases of high blood pressure and diabetes. The reason is obesity.

“The latest data that came out suggests that about 1 in 5 kids, or about 14.5 million children, in the United States are considered obese,” said Doctor David Chan, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Carle.

The numbers have become so troubling that doctors are calling for stronger solutions.

“There are obesity programs at certain children’s hospitals,” Chan said. “They’re very coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach.”

But it’s more than just cutting out foods or reducing screentime. Some of these solutions include weight loss medication.

“And even for those extreme kids that really need some extra help, there’s even bariatric surgery for those kids,” Chan said. “Remember, that’s an extreme approach.”

Invasive surgeries and medications don’t have to be the only answer.

“Increasing access to process foods directly relates to increasing insulin obesity in the population,” Chan said.

Introducing healthier lifestyle choices could help to solve the problem, even before it begins. But doctors said it’ll take the entire family, maybe the community.

“We simply carve out half an hour, 15 minutes each day in increments and simply say, ‘You know what, let’s all put our screens down, let’s all step away from the television, let’s all go for a walk,'” Chan said.

Chan suggested the 5-2-1-0 rule:

  • 5 – Enjoy five or more vegetables/fruits a day.
  • 2 – Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day.
  • 1 – Play actively for a least one hour a day.
  • 0 – Drink zero sugar-sweetened drinks.