It's well known that childhood obesity is a risk factor for chronic diseases in adulthood. But what many parents might not realize until problems arise is that overweight and obese kids and teens often have weight-related problems during childhood.
Kids who are considered obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, at or above the 95th percentile) are at risk for:
There's also thought to be a connection between obesity and early puberty, especially in girls. Overweight kids tend to grow faster and enter puberty earlier, and obesity might play a role in earlier onset of breast development, usually the first sign that a girl is entering puberty.
The far-reaching health problems associated with obesity have dire implications for kids right now. So it's vital that parents do all they can to help kids reach and maintain a healthy weight. Being a good role model is a key part of this — let your kids see you eating healthy foods in appropriate serving sizes, enjoying treats in moderation, and exercising regularly.
And you don't have to go it alone. The health care reform legislation includes $15 billion earmarked for public health programs designed to help prevent health problems and keep Americans healthy, including $16 million that will go toward combating obesity and promoting fitness. Another provision requires "nutrient content disclosure statements" at chain restaurants, which is significant since an estimated 84% of parents take kids for fast food at least once a week. Look for calorie counts and other nutritional breakdowns listed on in-store and drive-through menus soon.
The long-term picture, of course, is still important. Kids who reach a healthy weight not only have less risk for obesity-related problems, but are more likely to avoid obesity later. Results of a recent study show that obese teens are 16 times more likely to become severely obese in adulthood compared with those who are normal weight or overweight.
Consider talking to your doctor or a nutritionist about ways to fight obesity as a family.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: December 2010
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) NHPS works with families and community partners to help kids grow up healthy, with a focus on childhood obesity prevention and emotional and behavioral health during early childhood.|
|5 Ways to Reach a Healthy Weight Most dieters regain the weight they lost by dieting when they go back to their old eating habits. Get our tips on the best ways to drop excess weight.|
|Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that put kids at risk for heart disease and diabetes. With lifestyle changes, however, many kids are able to improve their health and reduce their risk of disease.|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) High blood pressure, or hypertension, is usually associated with older people. But some kids do have it, and it can be life-threatening if left untreated.|
|Body Mass Index (BMI) Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that uses your height and weight to estimate how much body fat you have. BMI, although not a perfect method for judging someone's weight, is often a good way to check on how a kid is growing.|
|Weight and Diabetes A balanced diet and an active lifestyle are important for kids with diabetes because weight can influence diabetes, and diabetes can influence weight.|
|What Being Overweight Means Being overweight has become a serious problem for many kids and adults. Find out what it means to be overweight in this article just for kids.|
|Can Diabetes Be Prevented? Parents want to protect their kids from everything, which is virtually impossible, of course. But can you prevent your child from getting diabetes?|
|Can Diabetes Be Prevented? Diabetes is a health problem that affects kids of all ages, but you can't catch it like a cold. In some cases, diabetes can be prevented. Find out how.|
|Body Mass Index (BMI) One of the biggest questions guys and girls have as they grow and develop is whether they're the right weight. One place to start is by learning about body mass index, or BMI.|
|Body Mass Index (BMI) Charts Doctors use body mass index (BMI) measurements to assess a child's physical growth in relation to other kids the same age. Here's how to calculate BMI and understand what the numbers mean.|
|Healthy Eating Good nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.|
|Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a signal that someone could be on the road to serious health problems. Find out more about it in this article for teens.|
|When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people are severely overweight, it can cause health problems.|
|Type 2 Diabetes: What Is It? Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, a sugar that is the body's main source of fuel. Find out more about a kind of diabetes called type 2 diabetes in this article for kids.|
|Overweight and Obesity It's an alarming statistic: 1 out of 3 U.S. kids are considered overweight or obese. Find out how to overcome overweight and obesity in your own family.|
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