Family Medicine: Childhood Obesity

Family Medicine: Childhood Obesity

Family Medicine: Childhood Obesity

We always hear that obesity has become an epidemic, but what does that mean eaxctly? An epidemic occurs when a population experiences unexpectedly high levels of a certain condition–levels that exceed expectations based on recent data. This is especially concerning when it comes to kids, but, unfortunately, childhood obesity is just as much an epidemic as adult obesity.

Obesity and Kids

Obesity is notoriously difficult to calculate with precision. BMI, or body mass index, is the system most generally used; it measures the correlation between weight and height based on gender and age, but it doesn’t necessarily measure body fat. A BMI of 25.0-29.9 is considered overweight; anything over 30.0 is considered obese. Almost 20% of American children (and 35% of adults) have a BMI of over 30.0. This is a drastic change from the 1970’s and 1980’s: data from these times shows that only 5% of American children could be considered obese. What changed? It is a combination of food choices (including sugary or fried foods as well as overindulgence in “healthy” foods, which are still stored as fat within the body) and low levels of physical activity.

What You Need to Know

So, what do you need to know about childhood obesity? Let our Family Medicine experts explain!

  • Signs. The signs of childhood obesity are usually grounded in height and weight measurements used to calculate BMI. However, BMI is not always accurate; for example, a higher BMI may be caused by more muscle mass.
  • Risk factors. There are many risk factors associated with childhood obesity. If one parent is obese, a child is three times more likely to be obese, while two obese parents are ten times more likely to have an obese child. Similarly, food choices, exercise regularity and type, diseases, medications, and even psychological factors can impact a child’s likelihood to be obese.
  • Risks. Kids with obesity are much more likely to have health issues, both during the childhood and long into adulthood. The risks come in two types: physical risks, like asthma, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and more; and psychological risks, like low self-esteem and depression.

Interested in more info on childhood obesity? Looking for Family Medicine experts? Contact us today!

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