Childhood and Juvenile Obesity:
Obesity in kids is now epidemic in the United States. The number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last two to three decades; currently one child in five is overweight. The increase is in both children and adolescents, and in all age, race and gender groups. Source: National Institute of Health
Childhood or juvenile obesity has become a major health problem in many of the industrialized countries of the world. In the past two decades, the cases of childhood obesity have tripled in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, causing the World Health Organization to classify the problem as epidemic. Fifteen percent of children and adolescents in the United States are obese or overweight, and run the real risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions in adulthood. In the majority of cases, the causes are simple and can be prevented. This article takes a look at how to recognize the problem, and what you can do to help reverse it or stop it before it develops.
What is childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity can be loosely defined as an excessive amount of body weight. Just how much extra weight constitutes a problem is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI), a figure derived from a formula using a child’s weight and height. (See Childhood Obesity Assessment Calculator for a tool to calculate your child’s BMI). If a child’s BMI is 95% or higher in comparison to other kids of his or her age, sex and height, then that child is usually considered obese. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of obesity in your child is also important to determine if his or her weight is becoming a health risk.
Knowing your child’s BMI alone should not be taken as confirmation of obesity. Growth patterns vary greatly among children, and the BMI doesn't consider things like being big-boned or more muscular. Individual histories of growth and development also need to be included in the assessment. Your doctor or healthcare provider will be able to determine where your child’s BMI falls on the national BMI-for-age growth chart, and make a valid diagnosis.
Reprinted with the permission of Helpguide. © 2001-2008. All rights reserved.
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