Childhood obesity is becoming a major issue for American children. In fact, according to the CDC, one in five children/adolescents is classified as obese.
The percentage of obese children has tripled since 1980. Since the effects of childhood obesity can have long-term consequences, this issue must be addressed before it gets worse.
How is Childhood Obesity Defined?
Doctors will calculate a child’s body mass index (BMI) by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in meters. They will then compare that number to other children of the same age and place them into a percentile. Since girls and boys have different body compositions, doctors separate results by gender.
Calculating a Child’s BMI
Depending on the child’s percentile, they will be placed into a category ranging from underweight to obese.
- Underweight: Less than 5th percentile
- Normal Weight: Over 5th percentile – under 85th percentile
- Overweight: 85th percentile – under 95th percentile
- Obese: 95th percentile or above
Causes of Childhood Obesity
In many cases, childhood obesity is caused by poor diet and lack of physical exercise.
Heredity can also play a role. Studies show that children of obese parents are more likely to become obese as well.
The environment in which we live could partially be to blame for shaping the perceptions and patterns of children. Ads and television show often promote unhealthy products and play down the importance of physical activity. In addition, the busy nature of today’s family structure often causes parents to save time on cooking by turning to high-calorie fast food.
What Health Problems Do Obese Children Suffer From?
Over the short and long term, a child’s health may be affected in the following ways:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Early puberty
The social stigma of being obese could cause a child to suffer the following mental issues:
- Low self-esteem
- Behavioral / learning disabilities
How is Childhood Obesity Treated?
When treating an obese child or adolescent, family support and encouragement is perhaps the most important factor in successfully losing weight. Avoid negative language and positively reinforce their behaviors when possible.
A nutritionist who specializes in children’s needs will be able to monitor the patient’s current dietary habits and establish a proper nutrition plan. The focus will be placed on eating the right foods and portion control.
Increase Physical Activity
Increasing physical activity can decrease the amount of fatty tissue in the body. As a child builds muscle, that muscle will use energy to repair its self, even when they are at rest. The US Surgeon General recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
In order to encourage them, suggest fun activities such as playing their favorite sport or riding a bike.
Weight-loss surgery is extremely rarely used for adolescents. This option is only available for children with chronic health issues that can be reversed through surgical means.
CONSULT YOUR PEDIATRICIAN
If you feel your child may be overweight or obese, we want to work with you! Delaware Pediatrics will develop a plan to manage your child’s weight in a healthy and sustainable way. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please call (716) 884-0230.Tags: asthma, BMI, diabetes, exercise, heart disease, obesity
Categorized in: Nutrition
This post was written by Delaware Pediatrics