DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Childhood obesity is considered an epidemic in the United States with 14.7 million children and adolescents estimated to be overweight, according to the CDC.

Obese young people have been proven to become more likely to be obese as adults and develop diabetes and other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol at earlier ages.

“It’s become increasingly prevalent over the last several decades and the pandemic recently, it’s thought, has further increased the burden of this health problem,” said Dr. Richard Chung, Pediatrician with Duke Health.

That’s why treatment and prevention is key—and the focus of September which is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

The CDC recommends four things families can do to set up lifelong healthy habits at home:

  • Model a healthy eating pattern
  • Move more as a family
  • Set consistent sleep routines
  • Replace screen time with family time

“One of the key pieces is that it isn’t just about the child. It’s about the household, the family or whoever else is involved,” said Chung. “So, the more that families can kind of be healthy together, and choose things together, I think there’s a role modeling aspect of that, a comradery, or companionship aspect of that. It’s always easy to do something difficult when you have somebody doing it with you.”

The CDC encourages parents to talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you’re concerned about health risks associated with excess weight. For more, visit these online resources: