The number of overweight children in the country has doubled in the past two decades, a statistic that officials say shows how ineffective current recommendations are.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the representative group for more than 57,000 pediatricians across North America, is now recommending that doctors check children's Body-Mass Index (search) as part of their annual physical.
Body-Mass Index, or BMI, is a height-weight ratio designed to give physicians a more comprehensive idea of a person's chances of becoming obese. Checking a child's BMI could help prevent future weight problems, Chief of Pediatrics at North General Hospital Dr. Adam Aponte said.
"You may have a child one year who's doing okay in terms of their height and weight, but when you look at their BMI, they maybe very close to developing obesity," he said.
The academy also made six additional recommendations to track obesity, including detecting any risk factors that child may have with the disease. These factors include family history, birth weight and socioeconomic background.
Other recommendations urge parents to pay closer attention to what a child eats and his or her lifestyle. Instead of spending hours playing video games, children should spend more time doing physical activity, according to the report.
Although there are different approaches to reducing childhood obesity, doctors agree there needs to be a change in the diets and lifestyles of today's youth. Many doctors said they are observing a disturbing trend, as children are getting diseases typically associated with adults.
"We're seeing children who are 7,8,9 exhibiting signs of type II diabetes, high blood sugar," said Cathy Nonas, nutritionist at North General Hospital in New York. "They have bone problems. They have so much weight that their bones bend."
FNC's Robert Samuels contributed to this report.