According to the American Obesity Association, obesity among children and teens is reaching epidemic levels. About 30% of children and teens are overweight, which means that they are over 80% in the growth charts. Half of those children and teens are obese, scoring 95% or more in the weight charts for their age. Children, who are overweight, with at least one overweight parent, are 79% more likely to be overweight as adults.
This epidemic is caused by poor dietary habits and inactivity. Fast food and high sugar processed foods are replacing yesterday’s home cooked meals. Today’s youth are more likely to be sitting in front of the T.V. than outside playing. At the same time physical education programs in schools are being reduced and many community recreational facilities are unsafe or unavailable.
Childhood obesity is a leading factor in the rise of many health and physiological problems among children. These problems continue and often further increase during adulthood.
· Obese children are more likely to suffer from asthma.
· Type 2 diabetes, which used to be found mainly in adults, has increased dramatically among children. Before 1992 only 2-4% of children with diabetes had Type 2, by 1994 it had increased to 16%. It has increased even more today.
· Obese children are 9 times more likely to have high blood pressure.
· Because growing bone and cartilage are not strong enough to hold excess weight orthopedic complications can occur.
· There are many psychosocial effects. Overweight children are made fun of and are often thought of as being lazy. Overweight girls are also at a greater risk for developing an eating disorder.
· Overweight children typically have lower self-esteem and this can be reflected in their schoolwork and other areas.
· Sleep apnea, the absence of breathing during sleep, is more common among obese children.
For information about how to prevent and battle childhood obesity see my blog How to Prevent Childhood Obesity.