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Childhood Overweight

  • Date Submitted: 01/24/2012 03:30 PM
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Childhood Overweight
by L. Bellows and J. Roach1 (05/09)
Quick Facts...
  * Overweight children have an increased risk of being overweight as adults.
  * Genetics, behavior, and family environment play a role in childhood overweight.
  * Childhood overweight increases the risk for certain medical and psychological conditions.
  * Encourage overweight children to be active, decrease screen time, and develop healthful eating habits.
The prevalence of overweight children in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years. Recent reports have reached epidemic levels, with approximately 16 percent of children, 2 to 19 years old, classified as overweight.2 Colorado fares slightly better with close to 14 percent of children considered overweight; however, the same increasing trend seen nationally is occurring in Colorado as well.3 Excess weight has both immediate and long-term consequences and the current issue demands serious attention.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of weight adjusted for height used to determine weight categories. Due to children’s changing body compositions over time and the different growth rates of boys and girls, BMI for children is age and gender specific. BMI for age is determined using gender-specific growth charts that place a child in a percentile relative to weight and height. Weight categories are determined based on these percentiles and are defined as:
Underweight < 5th percentile
Normal 5th to < 85th percentile
At risk of overweight 85th to <95th percentile
Overweight 95th percentile and above
The terms obese and overweight are often used interchangeably, although the terms at risk of overweight and overweight are preferred to reference children whose excess body weight poses medical risks.
Consequences of Childhood Overweight
Overweight children and adolescents are at increased risk for several health complications. During their youth, for example, they are more likely to...


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