Childhood Obesity Overview
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that has become more prevalent in the past three decades. The rate of obese children and adolescents increased from one in 20 in 1980, to almost one in five in 2008.
Childhood obesity is diagnosed when a child is significantly above the normal weight for his/her height and age. It is considered dangerous because the extra weight can cause illnesses that once affected only adults – such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The weight is also tied to other conditions, such as joint problems and sleep apnea. Childhood obesity can also lead to depression and low self-esteem.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term health impacts, according to WellStar pediatric experts:
- Seventy percent of obese children have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adult
- Obese youth are more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
Proper Nutrition and Physical Activity Related To Childhood Obesity
Increasingly, children are not getting the proper diet and exercise needed to stay healthy and fit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Fewer than 40% of children and adolescents in the United States meet the U.S. dietary guidelines for consumption of saturated fat.
- In 2009, only 22 percent of high school students reported eating fruits and vegetables five or more times daily (when fried potatoes and potato chips are excluded) during the past seven days.
- Only 39 percent of children ages two to 17 meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s dietary recommendation for fiber (found primarily in dried beans and peas, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains)
- Eighty-five percent of adolescent females do not consume enough calcium. In the last 25 years, consumption of milk, the largest source of calcium, has decreased 36 percent among adolescent females.
- From 1978 to 1998, average daily soft drink consumption almost doubled among adolescent females, increasing from six to 11 ounces, and almost tripled among adolescent males, from seven ounces to 19 ounces.