Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. This is usually based on body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure based on height and weight and is recommended to be used in children and young adults since it includes the fact that they are still growing. Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight. Children at or above the 95th percentile have obesity. In order to calculate your child’s BMI click here.
It is well known that being overweight or obese has increased in the US - this is also true for children and adolescents. The percentage of children with obesity in the US has more than tripled since 1970, now with about 1 in 5 school age children being obese. Childhood obesity has immediate and long term outcomes on physical social, and emotional health. Continue reading to learn about the risks and steps that can be taken to prevent or reverse obesity.
Risks of obesity in children
- Higher risk for other health conditions such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone/joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease
- Increased risk for bullying teasing which can increase the risk of depression, isolation, or low self-esteem
- More missed school due to sickness or to avoid bullying
- Continued obesity into adulthood which can place them at higher risk for medical conditions
There are many factors that can contribute to childhood obesity, including genetics, metabolism, nutrition, environmental factors, and psychology. In order to decrease the risk or help treat obesity, the following could be considered:
- Increase intake of nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables and decrease foods and beverages high in added sugars or fats (fast food, processed foods)
- Switch out high sugar beverages like soda or juice for water
- Have you child get at least 60 minutes of physical activity
- Try to decrease TV watching or other “screen time”
For more information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm