When Terry Malin's* first baby, Ashley,* was delivered eight years ago, the hospital weighed her at 8 pounds, 8 ounces. She had a boundless appetite. As a toddler, she'd pop cheese slices straight from the fridge. She loved the burgers and pizza her mom, an office manager in St. Louis, brought home on nights when she felt too tired to cook. By age 2, Ashley fit into clothes designed for a 4-year-old. Malin was concerned, even though several of the pediatricians in the medical group to which she belonged shrugged her off.
When Ashley turned 4, a new doctor in the group examined her. He took one look at Ashley—42 inches, 71 pounds—and exclaimed, "This child's obese!"
Malin did some research, and she found a local pediatric-obesity clinic at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. There was a six-month waiting list. "Clearly, we weren't the only ones with a problem," she says.
Far from it.
* Name has been changed.
Carol Lynn Mithers's last article for Parenting was "The Literacy Crisis," in the September issue.