Childhood Obesity: Overweight Children Weight Loss Plan for Kids and Teens

Childhood Obesity Causes Childhood obesity in children and teens who are considered overweight or clinically obese is on the rise, according to research studies on the prevalence of overweight and obese children and adolescents in the U.S. Child obesity statistics speak for themselves, with the term “childhood obesity epidemic” creating concern for parents and health officials, as well as city and state government officials searching for ways to reduce and even prevent obesity in children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over nine million kids and teens between the ages of 6-19 years of age have been diagnosed as being overweight or morbidly obese, an alarming number that has tripled since 1980.

The CDC reports that over the past three decades child obesity rates have more than doubled for preschool children between the ages of 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years.

Childhood Obesity Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources, overweight kids and teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, which jumps to 80% if one or more parents is overweight or obese themselves.

In the U.K., parents of overweight school kids are to receive a letter from schools telling them their child is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or very overweight. Included in the letter are tips and advice on getting kids to eat healthy, the risks of being overweight and physical activities their child can do to lower their weight and risk factors.

In 2008, child obesity statistics show a dramatic increase in the U.S. obesity rates per state, showing only one state (Colorado) with a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.

Child Obesity Definition

What is obesity? The definition of child obesity and overweight is simple and easy to understand. “Obesity” means an excess amount of body fat, or body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, while “overweight” is defined as a body mass index of 25 or higher. BMI is calculated from a person’s weight and height, which provides a good indicator of unhealthy body fat and weight that may lead to serious health problems.

Most health professionals use published guidelines based on the body mass index, or a modified BMI for age, in order to measure obesity in children. Other professionals classify fat or overweight kids as being obese if they have a body weight ratio of at least 20% higher than a healthy weight for a child of that height, or a body fat percentage above 25% in boys or above 32% in girls.

Childhood Obesity Facts

The facts about childhood obesity cannot be ignored, and some parents have actually been arrested and charged with child abuse and neglect because their teen is morbidly obese, creating a firestorm of controversy around the country. The health risks and long-term effects of obesity in children are numerous, with very serious consequences, such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes (also referred to as adult-onset diabetes)
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver diseases, gallbladder diseases and asthma
  • Sleep apnea (interruption of breath while sleeping) and respiratory problems
  • Orthopedic problems/Osteoarthritis (breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Obesity in Children What causes obesity and overweight in children?, you may wonder. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity in children is caused by kids eating too much, eating the wrong kinds of foods (ie. junk foods, high calorie, high fat, high sodium) and not getting enough exercise. Television commercial ads intentionally marketed to kids and school cafeteria food menu items deserve to share at least part of the blame for increased obesity trends in children.

Genetic disorders and hormonal causes appear to play a part in some cases but are far less common than lifestyle issues and poor eating habits, and is not commonly viewed as a viable excuse. Genetic diseases, such as Prader-Willi syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome, affect only a very small percentage of children, but the primary cause of child obesity is poor eating habits and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Lack of regular, “natural exercise” is a major contributing factor in childhood obesity rates. Children who spend too much time watching television programs, playing video games too much or internet surfing for hours each day, have a greater risk of being overweight or becoming morbidly obese than kids who regularly engage in active play or sports.

According to research studies, “children’s food preferences and food-intake patterns may be shaped largely by the foods parents choose to make available to children and persistence in presenting a food that initially is rejected.”

The same study found that “picky eaters were breastfed for fewer than 6 months,” suggesting that breastfeeding that lasts longer than 6 months may help prevent kids from becoming picky eaters in the first place. Recommendations for dealing with a picky eater are to prepare one healthy meal for the entire family, and if he or she does not want to eat the meal prepared, don’t force them to eat it but don’t give the child something else to eat.

Weight Loss Diets for Children?

Overweight Children Child obesity prevention programs, weight loss camps and diets for kids under 13 years of age (and older) are popping up all over the U.S., but are diets for children safe? These programs are hoping to stop the obesity epidemic from growing and help kids learn about proper nutrition, food choice, self esteem, portion control and getting enough exercise.

National weight loss programs and grants are being put into place to help children achieve and maintain a healthy body mass index, or BMI, and lower their risks of health problems. These obesity programs also help parents of overweight or obese kids learn how to promote healthy lifestyles and eating habits, and how to give helpful support and encouragement effectively.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid for kids program called MyPyramid for Kids offers printable meal tracking worksheets in Spanish and English to help preschoolers (ages 2-5 years) and older kids (ages 6-11 years) keep track of their food choices and level of physical activity, as well as providing tips for parents and families.

We Can! or “Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition” is a national education program developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help prevent childhood obesity in youth ages 8–13. We Can! focuses on programs and activities for parents and families as a primary group for influencing youth. The program provides turn-key resources and programs for parents, caregivers, and youth to encourage healthy eating, increase physical activity, and reduce screen time.

Fad diets are a dime a dozen, and that includes “diets for teens” and even “diets for kids” who are overweight, so before you go signing your kid up for any diet programs – research diet scams and talk to your family doctor to make an informed decision for your child.

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10 Responses to “Childhood Obesity: Overweight Children Weight Loss Plan for Kids and Teens”

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  1. Janet Fox says:

    Gosh.. Have parents been really “arrested”?? Child obesity is a serious concern. In India, people are generally want their kids to be chubby and fat so that they look well-fed. What they dont realize is that it can have severe consequences later on in life.

    Also, I think modern age technology, as much as it has made our lives easier, has also made us a lazy lot. With the increasing popularity of video games, X-Box, PlayStations etc. children are becoming couch potatoes. Its not an uncommon sight to see a kid stuffed in the sofa with a remote console in one hand and junk food in the other.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Janet,

      It surprised me when I read that parents are being arrested and charged with child abuse and neglect for what they call “morbidly obese” kids. I can understand the concern about children’s health and officials wanting parents to become more aware (and take responsibility) for their kids weight. But, Big Brother government is already too involved in people’s lives and this is just one more area where they’re trying to butt in. You’re right, kids are spending way too much time doing things that don’t require any physical exertion, unless of course you consider thumb exercises on video games to be exercise, lol.

  2. Becky says:

    Parents being arrested for having morbidly obese kids.. are you serious. That is really sad! Life is difficult enough. I for one know the heart ache that comes with having an over-weight child. It is so difficult to live in the every-day hustle and bustle that that this world brings. One thing that has really helped though is a book that I stumbled upon titled, “Family Fit,” written by Dr. John E. Mayer. Dr. Mayer offers great fun ways to implement a healthy life-style into your family plan so that the whole family can benefit. Really is a true godsend.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Becky,

      I know, I really feel that getting arrested and being charged with a “crime” because of having a morbidly obese child or teen is ridiculous. Seems to me there’s already too much governmental oversight in others areas of our lives, that this is over the top. The book you mentioned sounds good, and I know there are books written for kids of all ages to help teach them about healthy eating habits and learning to like and enjoy eating healthy foods through a variety of methods.

  3. Adam says:

    Children learn their habits from the people around them, mostly from their parents at this young age.

    Parents should learn to eat responsibly and set the example for their children.

    As you have mentioned, besides the few who actually have disorders, do you ever see any fit and healthy parents with overweight children?

  4. Dave says:

    We need to be better role models for our children. My wife is currently expecting our first child and to be honest I’m worried about bringing a child up to adopt healthy eating practices when so much commercial attention is given to kids. There needs to be major changes in how food is advertised and how convenience foods are prepared and processed.

    Ultimately the buck stops with the parents.
    Dave recently posted..How To Ensure You Buy Only What Is On Your Shopping ListMy Profile

  5. fable says:

    I can tell you after having to learn to eat gluten free I value eating fresh, clean, unprocessed food. But with moms working our kids are eating from the schools and the tired parents are picking up take out. That alone if it stopped would carve weight off everyone in the family.

  6. Pamela says:

    It’s not just the so called “junk food” that is the culprit. Ever since the discovery of cheap corn sweeteners and hydrogenated oils (i.e. trans fats) manufacturers have been loading up everything they make with these ingredients to make them taste better to consumers, irregardless of the harmful effects they are having on our health. So basically if you’re not eating whole foods as in fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, you’re eating “junk food.” It’s no wonder there’s an epidemic of diabetes and heart disease in the country.

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