Bariatric and Nutrition Clinic Offers Guidance on Childhood Obesity

Physicians have noticed an increase in children’s weight since the pandemic began.

As part of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Jennifer Lindstrom, MD, medical director of Bariatrics and Nutrition and division chief of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Albany Med, offers guidance to educate overweight children, and their concerned parents, about the importance of nutrition and exercise.

“We have the most success with families in which the child is engaged,” said Dr. Lindstrom. In other words, a successful weight loss program works best “when it’s done as a family and the dietary guidelines that I give kids are essentially healthy guidelines for everybody in the family.”

Much of her role involves educating families and steering them away from fad diets such as intermittent fasting and the popular low-carb, high-fat keto diet. “You don’t need to cut out carbs from your diet to lose weight – that’s a huge misconception,” cautioned Dr. Lindstrom.

Instead, she recommends three “tried-and-true” approaches:

  • the American Heart Association diet
  • the Mediterranean diet
  • the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet

Dr. Lindstrom also recommends that her patients follow an overall lifestyle from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guideline called 5-2-1-0, with 5 representing five daily servings of fruits and vegetables; no more than two hours of inactive time a day; one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day; and zero sugared beverages, which includes sports drinks and juices.

Finally, she advises parents to regularly bring their children to the pediatrician and ask questions about their weight, citing a recent childhood obesity study conducted by her Albany Medical College students. “A lot of parents and caregivers had no idea how severe their child’s weight problem was,” she said. “Parents should really know their child’s weight status -- it’s hard to address a problem if you don’t know about it.”

According to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of obese children and teens in the U.S. increased to 22%, compared with 19% before the pandemic. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Alyson Goodman, described the results as “substantial and alarming.” The study examined body mass index (BMI) results from 432,302 people between the ages of 2 and 19 years old.

Albany Med’s Bariatric and Nutrition Clinic serves the needs of patients ages 2 to 18. The team includes Dr. Lindstrom and dietitians who specialize in clinical nutrition and take a comprehensive approach by evaluating the patient’s nutritional, medical and psychological needs as it relates to weight loss health.

Learn more about Albany Med Health System’s Bariatric & Nutrition services.