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.

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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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    High body mass index (BMI) is the primary indicator of childhood obesity. The designation obese is given in the case of a BMI above the 95th percentile. Possible consequences include diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, asthma, sleep disorders, and early puberty due to hormonal imbalances.

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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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    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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    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 Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of
    Yes, physical activity can help reduce childhood obesity in several ways. First, physical activity burns calories, builds muscle, and helps to regulate appetite. Over a long period of time this helps to regulate weight, keep bones and muscles strong. Second, physical activity distracts a child from eating. Sedentary lifestyle is correlated with increased eating. Probably because when someone is doing a sedentary activity (like watching TV or playing a video game) they are more likely to eat. 
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    If your child is overweight, reducing his sugar intake is important even if you’re still working on cutting his total calorie consumption. A study found that children who are overweight are more likely to have a metabolic disorder, such as high blood glucose and/or cholesterol levels and increased blood pressure, and consuming less sugar improves those conditions. Forty-three volunteers between ages 9 and 18 who were obese and had at least one chronic metabolic disorder, such as high triglyceride levels, were enrolled in the study. During a nine-day trial, the volunteers followed a low-sugar diet that included enough calories to maintain their weight. As a result, the participants saw a decrease in their blood pressure, along with LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood glucose and insulin levels.

    Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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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.


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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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