In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that doctors and all health care professionals should encourage better nutrition and more physical activity among children by working with families and communities, especially through in-school programs.

Incidence of obesity and overweight among American children has tripled since the 1960s, according to the National Health Nutrition Examination Survey (2000).

The policy statement is called Active Healthy Living: Prevention of Childhood Obesity Through Increased Physical Activity. It advises doctors to check children's weight, diet and physical activity levels more regularly. Doctors should work with families at identifying what impedes healthy living and suggesting positive moves, when needed.

The statement stresses the importance of parental example. Parents who eat well and adopt a healthy lifestyle serve as excellent role models for their children.

The statement says doctors should actively encourage:

-- Bringing back compulsory physical activity programs
-- Community and school programs aimed at getting children active
-- Make sure school recess times are protected
-- More research into the prevention of childhood obesity - and more funding for it.
-- More safe recreational facilities which can allow children to become more active, such as parks, playgrounds, cycling paths, etc.
-- School programs aimed at good nutrition
-- School wellness councils

Childhood obesity/overweight is not a growing problem just in the USA. Most of Western Europe, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East and many parts of Asia are experiencing huge growth in childhood obesity/overweight.

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