Childhood Overweight - What is the Concern?
The rate is growing:
Nationally, the rate of childhood overweight has doubled in the past 20 years, tripled in the past 30, and now stands at 18%. However, the percent of children aged 6-11 who are at-risk for being overweight or already over weight is now over 30%. In Pennsylvania, 8th graders were measured in 1999-2001, and 35% were at risk for overweight or already overweight.
How is overweight decided?
To determine weight status, health professionals use Body Mass Index (BMI), which takes into account the child’s height and weight and plot on a percentile graph, similar to other child growth charts. A BMI from 85th -94th percentile is considered at risk for overweight; above 95th is overweight. This method is different from adults, whose height and weights are compared to a graph. Adults who are overweight have a BMI of 25-29, and obese are at a BMI of 30 or above. In the U.S., 65% of total adults are now overweight or obese.
There are many medical problems related to child obesity:
high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and more. The longer a child is overweight, the greater risk for these problems and future medical problems such as heart disease, cancer and complications of diabetes in adulthood.
What can parents do?
The key to protecting your child from these diseases is making changes in the elementary years to increase fitness. Our program does not promote weight loss for children, but rather making positive health behavior changes now to maintain a healthy weight and help reduce their risk for adolescent and adult overweight or obesity and promote lifelong health