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Is NDD linked to obesity?

Childhood Obesity in the United States

Approximately 16% of US children (~ 9 million) aged 6-19 are overweight or obese. According to the Institute of Medicine, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 30 years for preschoolers and adolescents, and more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years old.

Type-2 Diabetes

Due to the drastic increase in the prevalence of pediatric diabetes over the past few decades, the definition has changed from “adult-onset” diabetes to type-2 diabetes. Approximately 176,500 children and adolescents suffer from diabetes.

Asthma

Currently 9.4% of children in the US have asthma. Overweight children are at an increased risk for developing asthma and other respiratory problems and for being hospitalized for asthma.

Hypertension

1 in 10 children with a Body Mass Index within or above the 95th percentile have hypertension (vs. only 2.6% with a BMI <85th percentile).

Cardiovascular Disease

Overweight adolescents are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and earlier death. Most overweight children have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including higher cholesterol levels, abnormal glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening overweight children for high cholesterol and prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs if needed.

Childhood Obesity May Be Prevented Through Outdoor Play

  • Allowing children free, unstructured outdoor play is an important way to help them get physically active.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2006 to pediatric health care providers on ways to increase physical activity in children and adolescents.
  • The authors stated that lifestyle-related physical activity, as opposed to aerobics or calisthenics, is critical for sustained weight loss in children, and recommended free, unorganized outdoor play as a method of physical activity.
  • Infants and toddlers should be allowed outdoor physical activity, unstructured free play, and exploration.
  • The AAP encourages parents to get their children outside as much as possible.

Source: National Environmental Education Foundation "Fact Sheet: Children's Health and Nature"