*FAQs: Pediatric Obesity

How fat are kids?

In the United States, about 11% of kids ages 6-19 are obese, and 14% are overweight. This is about triple the number of obese kids since the 1960s, and according to the CDC, in a six year period (1988-1994), overweight in kids 12-19 went up 33%.

Is it just the US?

No, it’s worldwide, and especially in Europe. In contrast, in Russia, rates are 6 percent obese and 10 percent overweight. In China, it’s 3.6 and 3.4, according to a study published in 2001 in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Why should overweight kids lose weight?

Heart disease. 60% of kids a BMI-for-age above the 95th percentile have at least one risk factor for heart disease. 20 percent have two or more risk factors for heart disease. Plus they are at risk for diabetes and sleep apnea.

How bad is diabetes?

Bad. Kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, and the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Ten times as many kids have type 2 diabetes in 2002 as in 1997. It’s a direct result of poor diet and limited exercise. Diabetes is a genetic disease, but it can be avoided, delayed and treated with lifestyle change.

What can parents do?

  • Put an emphasis on your own health. If you have cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar issues, learn how you can manage your health more effectively.
  • Set a good example for them by being healthy yourself.
  • Encourage your kids to make changes to their general lifestyle.
  • Encourage them to become more physically active.
  • Make it easy for them to eat healthily.

Do kids eat emotionally?

Some do-out of habit, when bored, or when stressed. Obese kids often have low self-esteem, and may feel sad, lonely or nervous more than kids who are not obese.

What if your kid is tall, or an athete?

Some kids who are very athletic and have a large muscle mass, may be overweight, but if they do not have excess body fat, then they do not need help with weight loss. However, the vast majority of children who are overweight are also obese and do need help with weight management.

What’s the truth about fat kids becoming fat adults?

The more severe and earlier the onset of obesity in childhood, the more severe the adult obesity. And the more severe and earlier the onset of obesity-related diseases, like heart disease.

How much sugar does soda really have?

It’s liquid candy – about 9 teaspoons of sugar in every can of most sodas.

What about juice drinks?

It’s the same as for pop-about 9 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounces.

Does soda pop affect calcium metabolism?

Yes. Soda pop sucks the calcium out of bones, just when kids need it most, as they’re growing.

What should teens do, especially?

  • Don’t worry about being the wrong size, shape or weight. It doesn’t help, and it’s a waste of time.
  • Know that diets don’t work-except for a few minutes, days or weeks.
  • Diet pills are not for kids, and most adults shouldn’t take them either-they have side effects and have to be taken for life.
  • Fat burners are ineffective—if they really worked, they would be prescripiton drugs.
  • Fasting burns muscle faster than it burns fat. Don’t do it.
  • Single food diets cause starvation of the muscle. Don’t do them either.
  • Be an intelligent TV viewer-choose what you want to watch, and make the time in front of the TV, PC or Mac really fun, not just there.

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