Obesity: One of the biggest problems facing our children today

In the last four decades, the proportion of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled. Currently, about one in five children ages 6-19 has obesity. Health professionals use growth charts to monitor children’s weight, height and body mass index. Obesity is defined when the body mass index is greater than the 95th percentile on the growth chart.

Children with obesity are at risk for physical, social and emotional problems. They are at higher risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, risk factors for heart disease, reproductive dysfunction and many other chronic health problems.

Obese children are more likely to be tormented than their normal weight peers and suffer from distorted self-image, depression and social isolation.

The cause of obesity is multifactorial. The factors include genetics, metabolism, eating and physical activity behaviors, environmental factors and social and individual psychology. In the United States, the most significant factor contributing to the high rates of obesity is energy balance.

Energy balance is the relation between calories consumed through eating and drinking and calories burned through physical activity. Excess fat accumulation is from energy imbalance, consuming more energy than expending. Lack of energy expenditure is due to sedentary lifestyle specifically excessive television watching, excessive technology use, and insufficient physical activity.

The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children are shaped by families, communities, schools and other sectors of society. It is important for changes to be made to these sectors, which will in turn alter unhealthful behaviors. Changes in the home, schools and community settings can help children reach and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Encourage eating nutritious foods, at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity, less television watching and less consumption of foods and beverages high in added sugars and/or solid fats.

Our goal is to build a healthy future.