pain medicine

Sep
08

Obesity in Children

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By Eloise D. Keene, MS, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE, Certified Diabetes Educator, Diabetes Management & Supplies

obesity graphic

Childhood obesity affects all groups of children in today’s America and in 2019 the United States is experiencing an epidemic of this condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports in data from 2015 -2016 that the rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970’s with as many as one in five (1 in 5) children aged six through nineteen (6-19) who suffer from this condition. CDC statistics have children from two through five years old experiencing a 10.4 % (percent) rate of obesity. Children between the ages of six to eleven (6 -11) fare worse with an obesity rate of 15.3% (percent). These rates are based on growth charts that measure height and weight by age and gender.

Obesity in children is defined as a case in which BMI (Body Mass Index) exceeds the recommended level for age and height. Obesity has previously been defined as a state of malnutrition. Over nutrition with excess caloric intake but lack of necessary nutrients is still a form of poor nutrition.

Developing obesity in childhood can be influenced by factors of lack of economic resources, lack of physical activity, social conditions (lack of access to food, unsafe neighborhoods) mental health status and genetics.

Research suggests that childhood obesity can be a precursor to chronic adult health conditions, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia (i.e. high cholesterol, high LDL and high triglycerides) cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Families may create an aggregate of risk factors that predispose the children to obesity by the choice of high fat, high caloric foods and the lack of physical activity or exercise. For children in most stages of growth it may be more important to encourage more physical activity than caloric restriction.

The keys to less childhood obesity may be found in an increase in physical activity, the limitation of less healthy high fat, high sugar, high sodium foods and the choice of higher nutrient density and lower in calorie and fat foods.

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