childhood obesityToday, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects: Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression. And excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.

mong children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects: Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.

he most sobering statements regarding the severity of the childhood obesity epidemic came from former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who characterized the threat as follows:

“Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

What is “overweight” in children?

When defining overweight in children and adolescents, it’s important to consider both weight and body composition. Among American children ages 2–19, the following percentages of children are obese, using the 95th percentile or higher of body mass index (BMI) values on the a growth chart.

How do you prevent and treat overweight in children?
Reaching and maintaining an appropriate body weight is important. The healthiest way to change weight is gradually. That’s why recommendations that focus on small but permanent changes in eating and physical activity may work better than a series of short-term changes that can’t be sustained. The importance of continuing these lifestyle changes well past the initial treatment period should be emphasized to the entire family.

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