Childhood Obesity

Every September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, gives elected officials, educators, physicians, and you the opportunity to take a stand and fight childhood obesity. In the Erie Times News recently, there was an editorial that reported that more than half of the Erie County school children are either overweight or obese.

Although obesity rates have soared among all age groups in the United States, obesity is a particularly grave concern for children. With more than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. obese or overweight, childhood obesity is a national epidemic.

Childhood obesity puts nearly one third of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke – conditions usually associated with adulthood.

I wasn’t quite sure how obesity is defined so I looked on the CDC’s website, and learned:

“Body mass index (BMI) is a measure used to determine childhood overweight and obesity. Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex.

For example, a 10-year-old boy of average height (56 inches) who weighs 102 pounds would have a BMI of 22.9 kg/m2. This would place the boy in the 95th percentile for BMI, and he would be considered as obese.”

Children with disabilities stand a greater risk of being overweight due to potential physical and behavioral challenges they might face that prohibit them from exercise, and joining a team or a gym. Medications are another complicating factor, as some medicines cause weight gain. When Ryan began Risperdal many years ago, the physician cautioned me to monitor closely his weight, as 75% of children on this medication experience significant weight gain. Fortunately, he was one of the lucky ones and did not experience this side effect.

Of course, there are many things parents can do to help their children get fit and stay fit. Below is a list of the CDC’s best resources, as well as a Toolkit from the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month website. I encourage you to check them out and consider what might work for your child.

CDC Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/resources/strategies-guidelines.html

NCOAM Toolkit: http://www.healthierkidsbrighterfutures.org/about/

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