Childhood Obesity

The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese.  Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat.  Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year.  The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion.  Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.

What is obesity?
A few extra pounds does not suggest obesity.  However they may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and/or exercise.  Generally, a child is not considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type.  Obesity most commonly begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence.  Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

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