Living Well: National Childhood Obesity Awareness month
By Hope Williams, Health and Wellness Specialist,
Ministry Medical Group Rhinelander.
One out of three children in the United States is overweight,
defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these. One out of five children is obese (having excess body fat).
Overweight and obesity are the result of a “calorie imbalance” – too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed – and are affected by various genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.
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.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. For children and teens, BMI is age- and sex-specific and is often referred to as BMI-for-age. A child’s weight status is determined using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults. This is because a child’s body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.
Therefore, BMI levels among children and teens need to be expressed relative to other children 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. This means that the child’s BMI is greater than the BMI of 95% of 10-year-old boys in the reference population.
Childhood obesity can put kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults:
type 2 diabetes
high blood pressure
Leading a healthy lifestyle (healthy eating and being active) can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. There are many things that influence the dietary and physical activity behaviors of children: families, communities, schools, child care settings, and all of the other places that a child may go each day as well as what they are exposed to such as TV and billboards.
While there is no single solution there are many small changes you can make to help the children in your lives from becoming overweight or obese:
keeping fresh fruit within reach
go on a family walk after dinner
get children involved in meal planning and preparation
grow a garden
try new foods
get enough sleep each night
limit screen (TV, video games, phones, other electronics)
set a good example, our children do what we do.
choose water over sugar sweetened beverages
Childhood obesity can be prevented. Everyone needs to work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and get more active.
For more information, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/childhoodobesity/ or http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/Nibbles_Newsletter_28.pdf.