An Overview Of Childhood Obesity

By Alley Benton
Updated December 5, 2016
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An Overview Of Childhood ObesityAccording to the World Health Organization, childhood obesity is one of the greatest challenges to public health of the 21st century. When children are obese, they are more likely to be obese when they become adults, as well as being more likely to develop a range of other health problems. Unfortunately, the statistics do not look good, and the number of children who are overweight or obese continues to increase.

Facts on Childhood Obesity:

- Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has quadrupled in adolescents and more than doubled in younger children.

- In 2012, 18% of kids aged between six and 11 in this country were obese, a figure that was just 7% in 1980. In the 12 to 19 year old category, 5% were obese in 1980, and 21% were obese in 2012.

- More than a third of all young people were overweight or obese in 2012.

- Being overweight means that the body weighs too much because of water, bone, muscle, and/or fat content. When people are obese, they have too much body fat.

- Being overweight or obese is caused by a "caloric imbalance". This means obese children consume more calories than they burn. This imbalance is affected by the environment, behavior, and genes.

Health Effects of Obesity:

When young people become obese, it affects their health immediately as well as long term.


- They increase their chance of developing cardiovascular disease, including hypertension and high cholesterol. In a study, 70% of all those aged between five and 17 had a cardiovascular disease risk factor.

- They increase their chance of being pre-diabetic, which means they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later.

- They increase their risk of developing joint or bone problems, psychological problems, social issues, and sleep apnea. They are often stigmatized and have low self-esteem.

Long term:

- When young people are obese, it is more likely that they will become obese adults as well. The associated health problems, including osteoarthritis, several forms of cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are, therefore, also more likely. A study showed children who are obese from age two onward are more likely to become obese adults.

- Being overweight or obese means increasing the chances of developing various forms of cancer, including Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the prostate, cervix, ovary, thyroid, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, esophagus, endometrium, colon, and breast.

Preventing Obesity in Young People:

To prevent young people from becoming overweight or obese, they should be encouraged:

- To lead a healthy lifestyle. This means eating a nutritious, balanced meal, and to engage in sufficient physical exercise. This is always important, as it can also help an overweight child lose that extra weight.

- To understand the factors that contribute to them being overweight, which includes the entertainment industry, the food and beverage industry, media, government agencies, faith based institutions, medical care providers, child care settings, schools, communities, and families.

- To work together with schools in order to develop and implement policies and practices that focus on healthy living, which includes education about this.

* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.