Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity
There are many reasons that we are seeing more overweight children than we used to. Portion sizes when eating out are larger, kids often get less exercise. More time is spent in front of the TV and computer. One out of five kids is now overweight, and they are at risk for being overweight adults.

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    Children start out with high body fat and tend to get leaner as they age. Girls and boys' body compositions differ as well. To take age and sex differences into account, scientists have created a special BMI for children, called BMI-for-age.

    Using a set of growth charts, doctors track the development of young people ages 2 to 20. The BMI-for-age figures in height, weight, and age to determine how much body fat a child has, comparing the results to those of others of the same age and sex. The calculation can help predict whether children will be at risk of being overweight when they're older.

    For example, the normal BMI range increases for girls as they mature, because teenage girls normally have more body fat than do boys that age. A boy and girl of the same age might have the same BMI, but the girl's weight could be normal, while the boy could be at risk of being overweight.

    Doctors stress that it's important to track a child's BMI over time rather than looking at one discrete number, because children can experience growth spurts.

  • 5 Answers
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    The body mass index, or BMI, for children is calculated with the same standard formulas as those used for adults. The standard formulas are BMI = weight (kg)/height (m)^2, or BMI = weight (lb)/height (in)^2 x 703. In children, though, the BMI is interpreted not as an absolute value, as it is with adults, but as a percentile. This is the case because children's BMIs differ with age and gender due to the amount of body-fat changes that occur with age. The calculated BMI can then be used to determine the percentile that it falls on by using a BMI-for-age growth chart available through the CDC's website.
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    Children with a high BMI may be presented with difficulties in life.  Not being able to be as active as some of the other children may make your child not want to go outside and play, instead they may want to stay inside.  Being overweight can lead to a decrease in self-esteem which should be avoided as often as possible at a young age.  Focus on feeding your children healthy meals, remember, they are what they eat.

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    Children who have a high body mass index (BMI) are at greater risk of becoming an obese adult. They are also at increased risk for developing long-term diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
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    BMI matters for children age 2 – 19 as well as adults.  Physicians use BMI to calculate a number that indicates body fatness.  You may have seen the BMI charts in your pediatrician’s office and had your child’s BMI plotted at their yearly physical. The charts indicates a percentile ranking relative to other children among the same gender and age.  A child is considered to be in the healthy weight category between the 5th and 85th percentile. A child in the overweight category falls greater than the 85th percentile. The BMI is not a perfect measure and it cannot tell you the body fat percentage of your child.  It is used because it correlates well with body fatness and is a simple, non invasive way to screen for overweight in children.

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    A , Nursing, answered

    One important observation in weight control is knowing if your child’s weight is within normal limits. A recent study determined that almost half of women with overweight or obese children believed their children were a normal weight.

    The study, from Columbia University Medical Center, asked women to estimate their body size. Researchers computed their real size. They found that 82 percent of obese women underestimated their weight. Eighty-six percent of overweight or obese children did. In contrast, only 13 to 15 percent of normal weight people underestimated.

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    A , Preventive Medicine, answered
     There are many things you can do to help your child avoid obesity:
    • Eat a family meal together: There are several large studies reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health that substantiate the fact that the children who sat down to evening meals with their parents ate more fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods and were less likely to skip breakfast. When parents are present at the dinner table the meal is likely to be more healthful and the children are more likely to eat it.
    • Turn off the television, the computer, and the phone: According to a study the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, families who watch television during dinner eat fewer fruits and vegetables and eat more high fat foods. A Boston University study showed that children who watched three hours of more of television per day had 30 percent more body fat than similar kids who watched less than 1.75 hours per day.
    • Control what foods are in your home: Control the food but don't control the child. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, five-year-olds whose mothers controlled their food intake showed significant increase in overeating by age 7 and had additional increases in eating by age 9. Allow children to monitor their level of consumption while you monitor what they are consuming.
    • Like Mother, like Daughter, like Father, like Son: The greatest influence upon a child's eating habits is the example set by the parents. Your children are mirrors of your behavior so eat intentionally and choose wisely. You are literally creating their future.
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    A , Psychology, answered
    The results of a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association indicate that every additional hour of sleep young children receive can reduce their risk of being overweight. Researchers in New Zealand studied the sleep habits and weight changes of 244 children between the ages of 3 and 7. To investigate the relationship between sleep and weight, they measured the children’s height, weight, BMI, and body composition. They also tracked children’s sleep, physical activity, and diet at ages 3, 4, and 5. What did they find?
    • Kids who slept more between the ages of 3 and 5 had lower BMI at age 7 than their counterparts who slept less.
    • Kids who slept more between ages 3 and 5 were also less likely to be overweight at age 7 than their peers who slept less.
    • Because the researchers measured body composition (the body’s proportions of muscle, fat, and bone mass), they were able to determine that the lower BMI was due to less fat, not to an increase in muscle and bone mass.
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    Parents and caregivers can use the following strategies to help prevent childhood obesity and keep kids healthy:
    • Follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and limit media time for kids to no more than one to two hours of quality programming per day whether at home, school or child care.
    • Visit the child care centers to see if they serve healthier foods and drinks and limit TV and video time.
    • Work with schools to limit foods and drinks with added sugars, fat and salt that can be purchased outside the school lunch program.
    • Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugars and prepare healthier foods at family meals.
    • Serve your family water instead of drinks with added sugars.
    • Make sure your child gets physical activity each day.
    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    Nutrition and Kids: Exercises for Children
    Dr. Rick Kellerman offers a variety of daily exercises to help parents keep their children healthy and avoid obesity.