The health risks associated with obesity are said to have been known by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates who asserted that those people who were naturally fat had a higher risk of encountering sudden death than those who were lean. Greek physicians are credited for making the observation that infertility and infrequent menses in women was caused by obesity. About five centuries after Hippocrates, Galen who was a Roman physician made a distinction between immoderate and moderate forms of obesity. It is supposed that the immoderate form was an anticipation of what is currently classified as morbid obesity (Bray, 2009).
Though clinical observations made in the ancient times had brought to light the risk of diabetes and sudden death associated with obesity, the significance of excess mortality and morbidity caused by obesity has only received full appreciation more recently. Data obtained as early as 1901 indicated that people with excess weight, particularly around the abdomen had a shortened life expectancy. Further systematic studies have confirmed this risk and these results led to the World Health Organization classifying obesity on the basis of increasing BMI (Bray, 2009).
According to the statistics gathered since the 1960s, the prevalence of childhood obesity has been on the rise with the years between the 1980s and 1990s indicating a three times increase from nearly 5% to almost 15% for both children and teens (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011, p. 42). The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) have been conducting studies on the prevalence of childhood obesity since the 1960s. According to its records, there has been an increasing trend in the rates of childhood obesity between 1963 and 2008 for children aged between 2 and 19 years. For instance, about 4.2% of children aged between 6 and 11 years and 4.6% of children aged 12-19 years were obese during the years between 1963 and 1970 (Marks, 2011).
The statistics for 1988 showed that the prevalence rate for the children aged 6-11 years had rose to about 11.3% whereas that for 12-19 year olds had escalated to 10.5%. The next statistics to be released for the year 2001 were even more shocking since the rates of childhood obesity for the 6-11 year olds had reached over 16%. From...