AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Obesity in American children and adolescents is increasing, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Research shows nearly 15 million children and adolescents are affected.

The numbers are alarming, but health leaders said the issue is more serious than just outward image.

“Although weight is classically considered a cosmetic thing, and the past 10 to 15 years, the medical society has turned to view this as as a true disease process that affects your health,” said Drew Payne, M.D., an Internist at Texas Tech Physicians.

CDC research shows obesity is prevalent among 20.6% of children ages 6 to 11, and 21.7% among 12 to 19 year olds.

Among minorities, the stats are even higher. 26.7% of Hispanic children, 24.8% of black children, and 16.6% of white children are obese.

So what can be done to reverse the trend?

“We want to be sure we’re having a healthy relationship with food,” Amanda Ast, Diabetes Education Coordinator at Northwest Texas Healthcare System. “That we’re eating a variety, and we’re eating often.”

When it comes to eating a balanced variety of foods, “being aware of what’s in your foods can be really helpful in making healthful decisions,” said Christine garner, Ph.D., RD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Garner explained that skipping meals isn’t the answer either

“Research shows that if you skip meals, you’re likely to have poor food choices when you do eat. And you tend to choose items that are higher in sugar and higher in saturated fat,” she said.

Just as important as eating right, get moving.

“We also want to be moving our bodies, so how can we focus on being less inactive. Not worried so much that it has to be a perfect activity routine, or that you have to run a marathon, but instead just being mindful to find ways to just be active throughout the day,” Ast said.

Making healthier choices for a healthier population.