Obese kids: How to trim the fat

The obesity epidemic is bigger than ever -- right now around a third of all Americans are considered obese.

And according to doctors, if this keeps up, today's children will be the first generation to live a shorter life than their parents. Obesity leads to debilitating health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

See how bad the obesity probem has gotten over the decades by clicking here.

Edie Rice a nurse practitioner with the Hannibal Clinic said, "Unless we do something to change that, we are trapping them in a life of disease if we don't deal with that."

Rice says like in adults, the way to a slimmer waist line for kids is healthier eating and exercise. One of the easiest things to change is portion sizes.

Then tackle the refrigerator. Don't keep fattening chips and candy at home. Remember kids are all about convenience foods. They eat what's easy to grab. So make healthy food more accessible and simple. Keep cut-up vegetables and fruits like orange slices and grapes in baggies ready in the refrigerator. That way all available food is healthy choices. It's unreasonable to cut out all snacks. Just lean towards fat free and low calorie options like hot air popcorn instead of microwave popcorn....and remember portion control.

Remember to walk the talk. Lead by example and keep the whole family on the diet. It's hard for your child to want to eat healthy if you aren't leading the charge and temptations are lurking around the home.

Rice says for many obese people, Type 2 diabetes could have been prevented with a better diet and exercise. The good news for folks on the line, there is still time to prevent the disease. And it's all about losing weight and living healthier.

Dr. Liberty Balbort with McDonough District Hospital says children with a weight problem need to log what they eat every day. She says it's the calories between meals that cause weight issues.

Dr. Balbort said, "Many times kids don't think about that piece of candy they pick up on the way through, but that counts towards the intake for the day."

It's also important to get kids moving - find an activity they enjoy and do it every day.for at least one hour.

But just like when you try to lose have to be practical. Things aren't going to change overnight. when it comes down to it,

But experts say your efforts now might just save your child's life.

Click here for recipes and substitutions:

Here are some I use in my own kitchen:

- Substitute Applesauce for oil in brownies

- Use blended vegetables in mashed potatoes

- Explore with spices, less calories and enhanced tastes. My family loves cinnamon

- Water down juices (Kids are only supposed to have six ounces of juice TOTAL per day) Juice may seem healthy, but its empty calories.

- Cut down on drinks and beverages and chose water enhanced with lemon. (By the way, lemons actually help you burn calories, as does celery) I (Melissa) am horrible at this advice, but I've found success with no-calorie drink packs.

- Doctors have also told me babies who eat more rice cereal are more likely to be overweight. Try baby oatmeal instead.

Best of luck!!

Here are some other links to try for kids with weight problems: