We are having a public health crisis. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and the statistics are startling. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are obese, a number that has tripled since 1980. Obesity in children is defined as a body mass index in or above the 95th percentile on the standard growth chart for children of the same age and sex.
There are multiple health risks for kids who are obese. They can suffer from breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma, as well as suffer muscle and joint pain. Kids can also develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, and are also at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, these problems can follow obese children throughout their life span.
According to the CDC, obese children are more likely to become obese adults, which can lead to more serious health problems. In addition to the physical risks, there are the social and psychological problems that often come with childhood obesity. These kids often get teased and bullied about their weight by their peers and can develop low self-esteem and depression.
There are plenty of factors to blame for childhood obesity. Nikki Brender, a NewYork City-based registered dietician who specializes in pediatric nutrition, states, "Poor habits start early on. I see many parents adding juice to baby bottles, which introduces babies to sweet tastes too early on and predisposes them to being overweight as a toddler and adolescent." And that is just the beginning. Here are 10 more reasons why children are at risk for obesity as they grow into adolescents.