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Childhood Obesity

What is Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. It affects more than 30 percent of children, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. This number has more than tripled since 1980.

Childhood obesity is a health issue. Today, more and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and other co-morbid conditions associated with obesity and morbid obesity.

A child is defined as “affected by obesity” if their body mass index-for-age (or BMI-for-age) percentile is greater than 95 percent. A child is defined as “overweight” if their BMI-for-age percentile is greater than 85 percent and less than 95 percent.

Risks Associated with Childhood Obesity
Children who are considered affected by obesity are 70 percent more likely to continue being affected by obesity into adulthood. In addition, they are at greater risk for serious medical issues such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancer

Aside from the clinical perspective, children who are affected by obesity face social discrimination, leading to low self-esteem and depression.

Causes of Childhood Obesity
Although the causes of childhood obesity are widespread, certain factors are targeted as major contributors to this epidemic. Causes include:

  • Environment
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Heredity and Family
  • Dietary Patterns
  • Socioeconomic status

Click on the links below for more information on Childhood Obesity:

National organizations:
Obesity Action Coalition

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