“One out of every five children in the U.S. is overweight or obese” (“Obesity in Children”), and as the number rises the significance of the problem grows. Obesity is a widespread epidemic that is taking a toll not only on the US, but also other parts of the world. There are many causes for obesity in young children that stem from genetics, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Obesity in children not only puts them at many risks for disease during their early ages, but also puts them at risk for problems later in life. These risks for disease can be prevented through the combined efforts of parents, doctors, government, school systems, and the children themselves. People are starting to take action against childhood obesity in numerous ways so that they can shape the lives of children and adults by encouraging healthier lifestyles now and in the future. Childhood obesity’s various causes and effects are increasing at epidemic proportions; however, through different ways of prevention childhood obesity can make a turn for the better in the future.
Obesity can be defined as an excessively high amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass (“Childhood Obesity: The Effects”). Obesity is the result of a “caloric imbalance” which is when too few calories are expended for the amount of calories consumed (“Childhood Obesity Facts”). A child is not obese until his or her weight is at least ten percent higher than what is recommended for his or her height and body type (“Obesity in Children And Teens”). People that become obese at a young age are at a high risk of becoming overweight in their adulthood. If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the child will be, and if both parents are obese than the child has an 80 percent chance (“Childhood Obesity: The Effects”).
Obesity generally starts between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence. Studies show that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming obese when he or she enters adulthood (“Obesity in Children And Teens”). One of the most important ways to decide whether someone is obese or not is based on BMI or Body Mass Index. BMI uses a mathematical formula, in which a person’s weight in pounds is divided by the square of the person’s height in inches and this result is then multiplied by 703. Then, the BMI-for-age and gender specific is put on a growth chart and the person’s condition is determined. BMI over the 95th percentile is considered overweight or obese (“Childhood Obesity: The Effects”).
As more and more children join the BMI percentile considered obese, the statistics increase. Thirty percent of adults who are categorized as obese got this way from problems in childhood. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. In the same time period, obese adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have increased from 5 percent to 21 percent (“Childhood Obesity Facts”). In 2005 a study showed that 12.5 million U.S. children and adolescents are considered obese, and with this number the average lifespan of all children could be lowered by up to five years (Manning). Although obesity is one of the easiest medical conditions to detect, it is one of the most difficult conditions to treat as obesity numbers grow to epidemic proportions.
There is no single factor or behavior that causes obesity. Two of the most common factors that can be linked with the cause of obesity are genetic factors and lack of physical activity (“Obesity in Children”). Genetic factors affect obese children when the child’s parents are obese or there is history of obesity in their family. However, genetics are not the only cause of obesity, and other factors must take place (“Causes”). Lack of physical activity is...
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