Childhood Obesity and Diabetes
Why should we care about managing our families' weight? There has been a lot of talk lately about how much heavier Americans have been growing since the 1970s. Today, approximately 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese with sixty-one million adult Americans considered obese.
Children are becoming heavier as well. The percentage of children and teens who are overweight has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Today, about 17 percent of American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight.
Extra pounds can add up to health problems, often for life. In adults, overweight and obesity are linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions.
For children, overweight also increases health risks. Type 2 diabetes was once rare in American children-now it accounts for 8 to 45 percent of newly-diagnosed diabetes cases in children and adolescents. Overweight children are also more likely to become overweight or obese as adults.
What is overweight?
Body mass index (BMI) is a practical measure used to determine overweight. BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height that is used to determine weight status. BMI is the most widely accepted method used to screen for overweight in children and adolescents because it is relatively easy to obtain the height and weight measurements needed to calculate BMI. For children ages 2 and older, and for teens, BMI uses weight and height, and adds sex and age into the calculation. Instead of using a specific number like adults do, the BMI for children and teens listed as a percent. This percent indicates a child's BMI in relation to the BMIs of other children the same sex and age.
You can use the Child and Teen BMI Calculator to figure out your child's BMI.
Children ages two and older are considered:
How can you help?
Encourage healthy eating habits
Encourage Daily Activity
Like adults, kids need daily physical activity. Here are some ways to help your child move every day:
A pre-adolescent child's body is not ready for adult-style physical activity. Do not encourage your child to participate in activities such as long jogs, using an exercise bike or treadmill, or lifting heavy weights. FUN physical activities that kids choose to do on their own are often best.
Kids need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but this does not have to happen all at once. Several short 10- or even five-minute periods of activity throughout the day are just as good. If your children are not used to being active, encourage them to start with what they can do and build up to 60 minutes a day.
You may want to think about a treatment program if:
The overall goal of a treatment program should be to help your whole family adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your lives. Here are some other things a weight-control program should do: