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(1) Obesity in Children’s

  Is Childhood Obesity Child Abuse?


 You have heard it from the medical profession and have seen it on television, in the street, and at school (and it is true): An epidemic of obesity is striking children and adults in America, and it is taking its toll on our health.

 The percentage of obese and overweight preschool children (2 to 5 years old) and adolescents (12 to 19 years old) has doubled, and for children 6 to 11, the percentage has tripled in the last 30 years.


About 9 million children over 6 years old are obese, and many more are overweight. This can be physically dangerous for children, as they can develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and other diseases. Being overweight can also produce pressure, teasing, bullying, depression, and other social problems for a child, as “thin = attractive” and “fat = ugly.” Society pays with time lost from work and school, mounting health expenses caused by obesity, and other direct and indirect costs.


No one really doubts that this is a problem. Unfortunately, no magic or easy answers are available.We, both as a society and as individuals, need to eat better and less and exercise more. That really is the take-home message of our course. The answer for the child who is overweight or obese lies with the child and his or her family. This course book is an attempt to help you and your child handle excess weight.


Your child (and you, if you are too heavy) can get to a normal weight, but this takes self-control, hard work, and a change in lifestyle that is not just for 6 weeks or 6 months; instead, it is forever.


The advice in this course is straightforward and simple (but not easy): Eat the appropriate number of calories per day of balanced food and increase exercise.

Children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults. Thus, they are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults. According to an article in the New York Times all of these health effects are contributing to a shorter lifespan of five years for these obese children. It is the first time in two centuries that the current generation of children in America may have a shorter life span than their parents.

 Your child’s health and life are at stake.

What is the “normal” weight of a person? How is it determined?

The normal (perhaps a better term is “healthy”) weight for an individual is actually a function of age, gender, and height. Charts published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) represent the weights and heights for American children. Most of these charts show the healthy weight for a child, although some are actual measurements of weights of children in the United States and represent the “real” weights but not necessarily healthy weights.


A complete set of charts from the CDC is available at: Online calculators are also available to do the math for you. This calculator will take your child’s gender, age, height, and weight and give you the percentile that he or she is now and what the “ideal” body weight should be:

The data in the charts are arranged by age and gender and are placed into “percentiles.” A percentile is the percentage of the population that weighs a given amount or less. For example, look at the 10-year-old boy line that is highlighted. If your son weighs 55 pounds, then 5% of all other boys weigh less than he does and 95% weigh more. If he weighs 71 pounds, then half weigh more and half weigh less. If he weighs 102 pounds, then only 5% weigh more and 95% weigh less.Boys and girls weigh roughly the same until the age of 10, or so, when the boys start getting bigger than the girls. These are not normal weights, but the actual weights of American children, as measured by the CDC and published in 2000.

If height matters, then how do you account for height in finding a normal or healthy weight?

Yes, height matters. The charts and calculator previously noted account for height.

An easy way to find the healthy weight for your child has been developed and takes into account both weight and height. It is called the body mass index (BMI). The calculation is a bit complex. It is figured by taking the weight in kilograms (kg) divided by the height in meters squared (m2). This works easily in the metric system but is a little more complicated in the pounds/inches American system.

The formula is as follows:

                 Weight (pound) x 703


       BMI     ______________


            Height squared (in2 )

For example, the BMI of a child who is 5-feet and 1-inch (61 inches) tall and weighs 105 pounds would be calculated as:



      105 x703      73,815


BMI  =     ________ =     _______ = 19, 8


                  61 x 61             3,721

An easier way to find this is by using an already created calculator (see the Resources for some online examples). The BMI is not in and of itself a measure of fat in the body. Other, more complicated ways of doing that, including measuring skin-fold thickness, are available. Nonetheless, the BMI for most people is a very good tool for evaluating excess weight.


Fat - See also lipids. One gram of fat contains and produces nine calories of energy. As an adjective and colloquially, it refers to being overweight or obese




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