Childhood Obesity Prevention  

Childhood overweight and obesity

The epidemic of overweight and obesity in the U.S. is affecting children as well as adults. In the past 20-years the rates of childhood overweight and obesity have more than doubled. In a recent study at Stanford about 20% of children were overweight or obese at 11-years of age. This is a serious public health problem because many of these children will develop problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease as adults, disorders that are associated with many complications from vision problems to heart attacks or strokes. In addition, an increasing number of children are developing diabetes in childhood.

What are the factors underlying this epidemic?

Obesity is clearly genetic, so children with an obese parent have a higher risk of developing overweight/obesity that children with normal weight parents. But since genes could not have changed so quickly the environment must play a big role in the epidemic. Some factors are quite obvious. In the past 20-years people have become less active and children in particular spend too much time in front of a television or computer. In addition, portion sizes have increased dramatically both in restaurants and at home. Fewer calories burned and more calories eaten means that we put on more weight than we need. But there are also more subtle factors, particularly family behaviors around food that may contribute to the problem.

What can we do?

Most physicians agree that the earlier in life that we try to help families provide the healthiest environment for their children the better. That’s why we are testing ways to prevent overweight by helping overweight parents provide the optimal family feeding environment for their toddlers.

Michelle Obama & Childhood Obesity Prevention

 

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