Childhood Obesity: Your Options

boy with donut appleCOMING TO TERMS WITH OBESITY
“Looks can be deceiving. It can be hard for parents to tell if their child is obese,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. “Parents who are overweight or obese might not ask about their
children’s weight. It is the duty of the physician to talk about that. Ask your pediatrician about your child’s weight. We use specific body-mass index charts for children. BMI differs for each age and gender, because they are growing. Ask your pediatrician for an assessment.”

“Prevention really starts during pregnancy. Mom should have a healthy weight gain while pregnant and keep as active as she can considering her condition,” says Dr. Vaquero Solans. She also pointed out that childhood obesity is not a problem that can be solved by
medication. “Changes in lifestyle are the best. It’s a combination of healthier diet and promoting physical activity. Nutrition counseling by the pediatrician, a specialist or a dietitian will help.”

Exercise helps keep kids fit and should be a part of every child’s daily routine, says Dr. Vaquero Solans, who encourages parents to set a good example. She offered these tips to
make exercise a lifestyle habit for kids that starts in infancy:

  • Start with the baby. Place him on his tummy so he will be encouraged to move around more.
  • Older children should have at least one hour a day of exercise. “This does not need to be all at once. It can be short bursts of activity of something intense 15 minutes at a time four times a day.”
  • Don’t let children age three or older sit in a stroller. They are old enough to walk.
  • Take the kids to the playground or on a walk regularly.
  • Involve the kids in sports or activities like dance when possible.


  • Number of children and adolescents in the U.S. who were overweight or obese in 2012: 1 in 3+
  • Percentage of children ages 6-11 in the U.S. who were obese in 1980: 7 %
  • Percentage of children ages 6-11 in the U.S. who were obese in 2012: Almost 18

View the full feature on Kids and Obesity

Dr. Solans
Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans
CHOC Pediatric


Dr. Vaquero Solans completed her pediatric residency training at the Hospital General de Ni–os in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also was a fellow in pediatric nutrition at North Shore University Hospital, Cornell University Medical College in New York, and completed a
fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at the Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She is interested in all pediatric digestive diseases with a special emphasis in nutrition, growth and obesity.

Dr. Vaquero Solans’ philosophy of care: “I like to provide excellent care to all my
patients in a comprehensive vision of body and mind, considering the individual patient and the family. I have a great interest in the care of the underserved groups and children with autism, other special needs and the Spanish-speaking population is very dear to me.”

Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Medicina, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Pediatrics Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

More about Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on June 30, 2014, and was written by Amy Bentley.

Fight Obesity with the Right Food

Fight_Obesity_Right_FoodsObesity in children is a major health concern in the United States: Almost 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese, a significant increase from the 7 percent of kids that age who were obese in 1980. However, an improved diet can go a long way toward overcoming the problem, a CHOC pediatric gastroenterologist says.

One of the best ways for parents to help children prevent obesity is to improve their diet, says Dr. Cecilia Vaquero Solans. She suggests that parents and families follow a simple “five-to-one” plan when it comes to food, beverage, exercise and lifestyle choices for their kids:

  • Serve five fruits or vegetables per day.
  • Drink four glasses of water per day.
  • Have three meals per day. (Breakfast is the most important.)
  • Spend two hours or less watching television and playing on electronics, combined.
  • Have one hour of exercise of a day.
  • Sweet beverages like soda and juice? Zero.

Sugary desserts and candy should be rare, Dr. Vaquero Solans says.

“Dessert should be mostly fruit, nuts, yogurt and high-fiber snacks,” she says.Fight_Obesity_Right_Foods_2

Children also don’t need juice, Dr. Vaquero Solans says, noting its high sugar content. Instead, children should drink milk or water.

Here are some more healthy eating tips for parents from Dr. Vaquero Solans:

  • Model good eating habits for children. To keep your kids from eating unhealthy foods, don’t buy them or keep them at home.
  • Eat meals at home whenever possible, but when eating out, make the salad a central part of the meal. These days, even fast food restaurants have at least one or two salads as a healthier alternative.
  • When going out for entertainment, go after the meal and don’t make the fast food meal the center of the day.
  • Snacks in between meals are good for kids, as long as they are healthy. Try a piece of fruit, yogurt or a cereal bar, which can help prevent overeating at mealtime.
  • If mom or dad are busy at work and have little time to cook, prepare some meals over the weekend and freeze them. This helps to avoid buying take-out.

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