‘Children are overweight’

a model. Just called a family helper from Kiel: a 15-year-old boy weighing 200 kilos. It’s clear – this severely overweight teen needs help. And it’s not an isolated case, says Kiel dietitian Pete Das, who has been supporting overweight children and young adults with her Fördekids program for nearly 20 years.

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“There are more cases, obesity is becoming more common – and its prevalence is increasing exponentially,” says the 64-year-old. “There was less severe obesity, which is something I only know from adults. It’s not that rare anymore.”

More and more girls and boys in Schleswig-Holstein are suffering from pathological overweight (obese). In the past ten years, cases have increased twelve percent, according to health insurance company Barmer in its Current Physician Report. Accordingly, doctors found obesity in about 18,800 children and adolescents under the age of 20 in the North in 2020.

Ten years ago, there were about 16,800 boys and girls, 2,000 fewer. The only good news: With 3.6 percent of children being overweight, the North is still below the national average of 4.0 percent. According to Barmer, about 200 cases are added each year.

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Killerin wants to teach obese kids new eating habits

Some of them end up with nutritionist Beate Daâs. “Here we take care of children who are 1.40 meters tall and weigh 60 kilograms or more,” she says. From 45 kilograms, such a child is considered pathologically overweight. In two groups of children ages 8 to 16, the dietitian wants to encourage people to enjoy healthy eating and exercise. The goal: long-term weight loss, weight stabilization.

The groups meet once a week at Käthe Kollwitz and play sports. Sometimes psychological coaching is complementary to presentation, sometimes nutritional advice. There is medical advice – and there is cooking. Parents participate in the one-year program, which is covered by many health insurance companies.

Prerequisite: Children must be motivated to lose weight on their own. And so it is: “Children are overweight. Even if they say beforehand that it doesn’t bother them. When I ask questions, they talk about bullying at school, and frustration when buying clothes. Tears often roll down there.”

Beate Das is a Dietitian from Kiel. Through her program Fördekids, she accompanies children and young adults who are overweight.

But how to achieve such a strong weight gain in younger people? In addition to a genetic predisposition or a disturbed feeling of hunger and satiety, health insurance company Barmer identifies an important cause: the unfavorable combination of too much soda and sweets, too little raw, low-fat food and exercise. These are “obesity-promoting daily habits that children adopt from their parents and usually keep for the rest of their lives,” says Bernd Hilbrandt, director of the state of Parmer in Schleswig-Holstein.

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According to the “German Child and Adolescent Health Study” (KiGGS) by the Robert Koch Institute, only 14.1 percent of teens eat the recommended amount of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Instead, children aged 3 to 17 years old, on average, consumed more than a pint of sugary drinks, about 69g of sweets and 12g of spreads per day.

“Summer holidays provide a good opportunity to introduce children to fresh food by cooking together. In addition, plenty of time should be spent on outdoor physical activities and as little time as possible in front of a screen,” recommends Hillebrandt.

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Why does reality in many families lag behind recommendations? The nutritionist from Kiel offers some reasons for this. According to Pete Das, excess weight can be found in all social classes, but it is especially common in families with a low level of education. With parents who set an example for themselves in eating unhealthy food. “There are more eating disorders in high school,” Daas adds.

Kiel consultant: ‘Getting out of the stress trap is very difficult’

Such disturbances have become an expression of a particular problem, especially during an epidemic: the loss of structure in everyday life. Some responded by wanting more control. Beate Daâs: “They stick to a diet, exercise at home, and eat healthy, healthy food.”

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Others eat out of boredom, gamble on the computer. “These depend on each other: more media consumption, less exercise, unhealthy food,” says the expert. Overall, she thinks families are under more stress than they were 20 years ago. “This is the time I noticed: getting out of the stress trap, changing the motivation to eat healthy and exercise in the long term — that’s really hard.”

15-year-old refuse from Kiel – long-term rehabilitation consultant recommends

By the way, Pete Daas had to refuse the family assistant of a 15-year-old boy who was very overweight. In principle, participation in the Fördekids program is only possible if the parents also participate and support them.

She explains: “Unfortunately, this was not the case with the boy. In addition, I saw difficulties as to whether the boy could actually participate in our sports programme.” So she recommended a long-term rehabilitation specialist in this very obese, in which the boy would receive treatment and a program every day – even without parental involvement.

Affected families can also find help online at www.fke-do.de. The Research Institute for Child Nutrition in Dortmund provides information on healthy nutrition, on “improved mixed foods” with advice on recipes. The Nutrition and Exercise Platform (Peb) is a competency network in the field of obesity that wants to ensure that children and young people live a healthy lifestyle and prevents the development of obesity. Parents can find information about the nutrition of obese children in an online brochure from the Working Group on Obesity in Children and Adolescents.

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