Facts and Figures on Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity represents one of our greatest health changes and is now among the most widespread medical problems affecting children and adolescents living in the United States and other developed countries. Childhood obesity and rates have increased 3to 4 times in the U.S., reaching epidemic levels and are moderately higher than the rates in Canada, Australia and Europe. Many experts believe that this current generation of children will be the first generation in American history to live shorter than their parents. Childhood obesity is also the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States and needs to be taking seriously. Most professionals measure obesity in children and adolescents by guidelines based on the body mass index (BMI), modified for age, pubertal stage, and gender. Other professionals define childhood obesity as body weight at least 20% higher than the healthy weight range for a child or adolescent of that height, or as a body fat percentage above 25% in boys or above 32% in girls. According to the American Obesity Association, approximately 15% of adolescents (12-19 years of age) and children (6-11 years of age) are obese in the U.S and the numbers have continued to increase since the early 1990’s. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1/3 of all children are overweight or obese. Statistics shows 80% of children that were overweight at 10-15 years old were also obese at 25 years old. There are approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2-19 years of age who are obese. About 1/3 of all children eat fast food every day and have sedentary lifestyles due to the amount of screen time including watching TV, playing video games, and time spent on the computer. One report states a child who watches two or more hours of TV per day is 50% more likely to become obese then one who does not. Children just 9 and 10 years old are developing serious health issues including, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and heart disease because of their poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Approximately 70% of obese children already have at least one risk factor of having heart disease and approximately 85% of all children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were obese. Also children treated for obesity are about three times more expensive for the healthcare system than children with normal weight. Approximately 30% of obese children also suffer from asthma. There are about 20-30% of children between the ages of 5-11 years old who have elevated systolic or diastolic blood pressure. National guidelines recommend that schools allocate 150 minutes per week of physical activity for elementary school students and 255 minutes per week for older children. Illinois is the only state that actually enforces these guidelines. In many states, children are getting far less physical activity at school than they need. What Causes childhood obesity?
Weight gain is the result of taking in more calories than you burn off, which can lead to obesity. How you eat, how active you are, and other things affect how your body uses calories and whether you gain weight. Family plays a big role in childhood obesity, because they help form children’s eating and lifestyle habits. Busy lives also make it harder to plan and cook healthy meals, so many parents find it easier to reach for prepared meals, go out to eat, and go through the drive through. These foods are often high in fat and calories, and portions are often too large. Also with the demanding work schedules, long commutes and other commitments also cut into the time many people have for physical activity. There is not one single cause of childhood obesity rather it is a complex interaction of many variables. Contributing factors include genetics, environment, and socio-demographics. Genetics:
Certain genetic characteristics may increase an individual’s susceptibility to...
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