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. There is more risk if parents are also overweight, and if siblings are also. Some of it may be genetic, but a similar environment is a factor too. Parents should be supportive of overweight kids and try to be a good example. Increasing levels of exercise and watching family food choices can help. Pay attention to what food choices are offered at school and avoid upsizing fast food meals. Be aware of calories in sugared drinks, and use of food as rewards and punishment is not a good idea.

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    The American Heart Association notes that roughly one in three American children today is overweight. This epidemic is a significant issue both nationwide and locally. Doctors start looking at body mass index (BMI) in children at the two-year well-child visit. If your child is trending towards being overweight at an early age, your doctor will work with you to come up with a plan that addresses both nutrition and exercise, ensuring a healthy trajectory going forward. Because children naturally want to be active, most of these behaviors can be easily modified by motivated parents, reducing issues later in life.

    Weight can be an emotional issue for all involved, and children become increasingly aware of this as they get older. It is important to communicate effectively with children about healthy lifestyle choices and try to structure family activities to appropriately encourage them. Your thoughts on weight issues may be different than those of your child, and it is important to reach a common ground because everyone internalizes the issue differently.
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    Body mass index (BMI) is a measure used to determine if a child is overweight or obese. It is calculated using a child's weight and height. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.

    A child's weight status is determined using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults because children's body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Growth Charts are used to determine the corresponding BMI-for-age and sex percentile. For children and adolescents (aged 2-19 years):
    • Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.
    • Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.
    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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    Childhood obesity prevalence remains high. Overall, obesity among our nation’s young people, age 2 to 19, has not changed significantly since 2003-2004 and remains at about 17%. However among children 2- to 5-years-old, obesity has declined based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.
    • Approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents age 2 to 19 had obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific CDC BMI-for-age growth charts.
    • The prevalence of obesity among children age 2 to 5 decreased significantly from 13.9% in 2003-2004 to 8.4% in 2011-2012.
    • There are significant racial and age disparities in obesity prevalence among children and adolescents. In 2011-2012, obesity prevalence was higher among Hispanics (22.4%) and non-Hispanic black youth (20.2%) than non-Hispanic white youth (14.1%). The prevalence of obesity was lower in non-Hispanic Asian youth (8.6%) than in youth who were non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black or Hispanic.
    • In 2011-2012, 8.4% of 2- to 5-year-olds had obesity compared with 17.7% of 6- to11-year-olds and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds.
    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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    A , Pediatrics, answered
    Dr. Joanna Dolgoff - What is a good way to approach the issue of weight with my children?
    When you are approaching the issue of weight with your children, you want to give your kids the tools they need to make healthy choices on their own. In this video, pediatrician Joanna Dolgoff, MD, explains her diet strategy for overweight kids. 
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    Roughly one in three American children today is overweight; doctors will begin looking at body mass index (BMI) in children at the two-year well-child visit to determine if the child is trending toward overweight at an early age. They work with families to come up with a plan that addresses both nutrition and exercise, ensuring a healthy trajectory going forward. Because children naturally want to be active, most of these behaviors can be easily modified by motivated parents, reducing issues later in life.
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    Weight-loss surgery is the answer when a patient has a BMI (body mass index) between 35 and 40, or about 75 pounds overweight and has an obesity-related disease, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea; or when a patient has a BMI greater than 40, or is at least 100 pounds overweight, with or without medical problems.
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    Effective solutions to childhood obesity should include a supporting role and a healthier lifestyle for the entire family. Consider changing family routines to include more outdoor activities and a new menu. If you need help with meal planning, seek out a dietician or a nutritionist who can create healthy menus for family meals, school lunches and snacks.  A variety of nutritional planning programs are available at community events and from your doctor’s office. Consider visiting the website, We Can, a free national fitness program that offers an online meal-planning tool and family-friendly activities. 
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    Childhood obesity has grown by leaps and bounds.  In the U.S., about 17 percent of children, from toddlers to late teens, are obese – a stunning 300 percent increase in just two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That dramatic spike in childhood obesity has sparked concern in the medical community. That’s because obesity puts a child at greater risk for developing sleep apnea, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. 
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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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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Should I try to embarrass my overweight children so they lose weight?

    Shaming overweight kids is never a good idea. Watch this video to learn why a group of doctors featured on The Dr. Oz Show believe making kids feel bad about their weight is more akin to bullying than tough love.