Child Obesity: The Modern Epidemic

November 12, 2012

Child Obesity: The Modern Epidemic

The bad news is that childhood obesity in America has risen sharply since 1970. The good news is that this is one epidemic that is curable and preventable. Overweight children, like overweight adults, are far more likely to suffer premature death from such ailments as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. They are also more likely to suffer from other health problems like sleep apnea, arthritis and asthma than children of a normal weight. Children normally are plump, but how do your determine if your child suffers from childhood obesity? The best way is to ask your doctor or pediatrician for their advice. You can also calculate your child’s body-mass index or BMI and compare it BMI charts easily available for free online or from your pediatrician’s office. The formula used for calculating your child’s BMI in imperial units is: Your child’s weight/ (Your child’s height x your child’s weight) x 703 = Your child’s BMI. This formula is different than for calculating the BMI of an adult that has stopped growing. The Numbers How do we know that the childhood obesity epidemic is growing? Just by comparing weights of modern children with the weights of children from 1971 to 1974. Back in the early 1970s, only 5% of children under 5 were considered overweight. But in the years 2003 and 2004, that number had risen to 13.9%. For children ages 6 – 11, the numbers were a mere 4% in the early 1970s but rose to 18.8% for 2003 and 2004. There was only 6.1% overweight rate for children aged 12 – 18 back in the 1970s while in 2003 and 2004 the number rose to 17.4%.

Why have children become so fat? Part of the blame lies with fat parents, who inadvertently teach their children unhealthy eating habits. Two out of three American adults are overweight. One of those two overweight Americans will actually be obese and not just overweight. Many American adults also don’t know how to cook and so feed their children fast food or heavily processed foods laden with fat, sugars and calories.

More Statistics

In order to remove your child from the current childhood obesity wave, you need to make sure your child eats fewer calories than he or she can burn off with exercise and daily activities. Most children need to play vigorously for at least 60 minutes a day in order to burn off enough calories to begin burning off fat. A child has to burn 3500 calories to remove just one pound of fat. Before your child begins an exercise program, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about exercises or activities that can safely build up an obese child’s endurance. Just suddenly running around for an hour may cause painful muscle strains or other minor injuries.

Studies on the childhood obesity epidemic have shown that children who spend more than two hours a day watching television or playing video games are more prone to becoming obese. If a child has not lost the weight as a teenager, then he or she has a 70% chance of becoming an obese adult.

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