Obese children are more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors, prediabetes, bone and joint problems and sleep apnea - all health conditions that we think of in adults, not children.

Childhood obesity on the rise

Childhood Obesity

We are all quite aware of the adult obesity statistics, but do you know that there are significant obesity statistics for children as well?

Over the past 3 years in the 6-11 year old age group of children, obesity rose from 7 percent of the children being obese to 18 percent. In the teen years, over the same period of time, obesity rates rose from 5 percent to 21 percent in 2012. This can have serious health implications for our young people.

Obese children are more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors, prediabetes, bone and joint problems and sleep apnea - all health conditions that we think of in adults, not children.

Here are some interesting results from a study of extremely obese children who were at least 100 pounds overweight:

  • Half of these children had high blood pressure
  • 15 percent had diabetes
  • Half had high cholesterol

There isn’t anything heroic that needs to happen to help children lose weight. Look at the family food environment to see what might change that will benefit the entire family:

  • Family meals at the dinner table is a good start rather than eating while watching TV.
  • More meals at home instead of dining out usually will save calories.
  • Serving fewer processed foods and instead, making meals from scratch will help keep the sugar content down and the fat reasonable.
  • Provide mostly calorie-free beverages for children. You want them growing up drinking water mostly, with milk for their growing bones.

Parents will want to serve as role models for eating well and being active. It may be helpful for the extremely obese children to have family counseling.

One-on-one sessions and together with family members, a counselor can help the family understand what issues may be leading to overeating.

Healthy, kid-friendly recipes:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.