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Childhood obesity is associated with various health- related risk factors.

1. Obese children and adolescents may experience immediate health problems or develop the problems as a young adult.

2. Obese children, teens and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors: such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, menstrual abnormalities, liver disease and bone diseases, than children and adolescents within normal weight ranges.

3. Children who are overweight and obese are more likely to be overweight and obese in adulthood.

4. Obesity affects all socioeconomic and ethnic groups, though affecting African Americans, Hispanic, American Indian and Pacific Islanders in greater numbers.

5. Childhood obesity is a growing global epidemic and is a serious public health threat impacting toddlers through adolescents in all 50 states and beyond.

6. Parents often do not see their children as overweight even when they are, and some parents may even view overweight children as being healthy and as a sign of successful parenting.

7. Obese children and adolescents are targets for bullying and can lead to low self-esteem and other problems.

8. Among pre-school age children 2-5 years of age, obesity increased from 5 to 10.4% between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 from 6.5 to 14.2%. In children ages 6-11 years old and in adolescents aged 12-19 years old, obesity increased on an average of 5 to 18.1% during the same time period.

What Causes Childhood Obesity


Obesity occurs when a child eats more calories than the body burns up. If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, the children have an 80 percent chance of being obese. Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by genetic problems. Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:
• poor eating habits
• overeating or binging
• lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids)
• family history of obesity
• medical illnesses (endocrine, neurological problems)
• medications (steroids, some psychiatric medications)
• stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse)
• family and peer problems
• low self-esteem
• depression or other emotional problems

The Solutions

The dramatic increase in the prevalence of childhood overweight in the United States has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to label childhood obesity a national epidemic—affecting more than 9 million children and teens.

Fortunately for parents and child care centers there are ways to prevent childhood obesity. At portion size matters we are happy to provide portion size plates specific for children 2 to 7 years old.

The solution: Have the treat but control the portion, even if it’s a snack food, such as chips or peanuts, put a small portion on the portion plate. If you’re reaching into the bag, you don’t realize how much you’re eating. You can also buy individual snack bags at the grocery store or make your own portion-size snacks using sandwich bags.

– Approach healthy eating and exercise as family activities. Using the same healthy habits as a family will keep children from feeling singled out or isolated. This will be especially important if one child is overweight. By encouraging healthy habits in your children, you will be doing your own body and mind a favor.
– Try one new food each week and let the child choose from a list from which you have made up for your family to eat.

– Talk with your pediatrician about where your child’s height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) falls on a standard growth chart, any concerns you have, and steps you can take to ensure normal growth and development.

– Keep regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments.

– Eating meals together as a family will help establish healthy eating habits and provide valuable family together time. It’s also a good way to keep portions in check. In addition, discourage your children from “grazing”; for snacks, keep lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.

– Keep 2-4 hours between meals and snacks

– Pack lunch on days when the cafeteria’s main course is one you prefer that your child not eat.

– Send fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water in bottles for drinking, a sandwich cut into cute shapes, baked chips or pretzels and a love note written on their napkin.

-Limit screen time (TV and video games) to no more than one to two hours per day.

– Have your children do a fun exercise during all commercials such as: Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says, travel a path in your home that circles the children back to the TV room-hoping on one foot or bear crawling or leap frog.

Get your children moving. Many children enjoy sponsored community activities such as: swim teams, soccer, T-ball and baseball. Upward basketball and football programs are usually sponsored by churches. Then there are individual sports such as martial arts, dance and ballet and gymnastics, golf and tennis.