Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Best Treatments for Childhood Obesity and GERD

Obesity and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease often occur together in children and teens.

There has been increasing interest in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity in the last few years as the incidence has risen to alarming levels. I have noticed that childhood obesity is a hot topic at medical conferences and in research, leading to a better understanding of the causes and treatments.

Prevention is the Best Treatment

The best treatment for childhood obesity is prevention. The pediatrician monitors weight and height at each well check up from infancy so it is important to follow the doctor’s advice on feeding and nutrition at each age and stage.

If your child is already obese, the goal is to slow down the rate of weight gain. Losing weight is often harder to achieve but yields the best result. You will need to work with the pediatrician to manage the common medical complications associated with obesity such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and hip/knee problems. As an added benefit, the best treatments for childhood obesity will help to manage the reflux too. When weight is controlled, reflux symptoms often improve considerably.

Best Treatments for Childhood Obesity/GERD

Some doctors are literally writing a prescription on their prescription pad for their young patients who are overweight or obese. The prescription read: 5210

It stands for:

5 servings of fruit/veggies a day

Less than 2 hours of screen time

1 hour of physical activity

0 sweet beverages

What to Eat

Ask your doctor for specific information about portion size for your child. At the same time increase the intake of fruit and vegetables to 5 serving a day. You can also control portion size and ingredients such as salt, fat and sugar by eating at home rather than at a fast food restaurant. These recommendations will help your child control her weight and her reflux symptoms too.

Limit screen time: TV, computer, video games.

It is recommended that screen time from all sources such as TV, computer, video games, hand held games and the DVD player in the car needs to be limited to two hours or less each day. A little bit here, a bit there. It all adds up rather quickly. Keep track of your total screen time from all sources. I bet it is quite a bit higher than you would have guessed.

Increase Physical Activity

It is time to get a move on with one hour or more of physical activity each day. Your child will feel more alert, burn some calories and digestion will improve. Next week I will discuss ideas for helping your child become more active.

Limit or Eliminate Juice and Soda.

Fruit drinks, sweet tea, soda and sports drinks are full of calories and sugar. Water is the best drink. Milk is also a recommended alternative to juice and soda but may cause digestive discomfort since acid reflux and lactose intolerance are common.

For more information about 5210, check out this website:



Check with your
doctor first!