It’s no secret that America is the most overweight country in the world. In fact, a recent study found that 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese. Unfortunately. childhood obesity is beginning to reflect this unhealthy growth, with 17% of children two to 19 years of age (over 12 and a half million young people) substantially overweight. While almost every child goes through a “baby fat” phase, how much weight is too much and when should you become concerned?
Defined in the simplest terms, your child is overweight if his or her weight is more than 20% higher than the ideal weight of other children of their age and height. Ideal weight is typically determined by Body Mass Index (BMI), a common measure of body fat based on height and weight. While genetics and hormonal issues can contribute to childhood obesity, it is largely caused by overeating combined with minimal or no physical activity.
Diagnosing and treating childhood obesity is critical to the prevention of health challenges that affect those who are overweight. Obesity has been directly linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, arthritis and joint issues, and other major health concerns.
If you feel your child, who is two years or older, may show signs of obesity, speak with your pediatrician so that you can gain perspective on your child’s specific BMI and take any necessary steps to help your little one achieve a healthy body weight. Typically, managing obesity risks in children begins with diet and exercise – and this applies to the entire family. The good news is that helping your child to learn healthy dietary and exercise habits at an early age can help to give him or her every possible advantage for a healthy lifestyle through the adolescent years and beyond.