According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. In 2017-2018, one in five school-aged children, or about 12.7 million children, were obese.
Obesity is defined as excessive body fat. For children and adolescents, this is determined using standard weight tables that take into account age and gender. If a child’s weight is at or above the 95th percentile of the table, they are considered obese.
As childhood obesity continues to rise, you may have some questions about this complex issue. With that, here are some of the most common questions about childhood obesity.
55 Questions you can ask about childhood obesity:
- What is the child’s current weight
- What is the child’s current height?
- What is the child’s body mass index (BMI)?
- What is the child’s percentile for BMI for age?
- Is the child’s weight increased, stable, or decreased from last year?
- What was the child’s weight and height at birth?
- How fast has the child been growing?
- Is the child’s weight above, below, or in the healthy range for their height?
- What percent of body fat does the child have?
- Does the child have any health conditions that may be contributing to their obesity?
- Has the child been seen by a doctor or other healthcare provider for their obesity?
- What treatments, if any, has the child received for their obesity?
- Are there any family members who are obese?
- What is the family’s medical history?
- What is the family’s lifestyle like?
- Do they eat meals together as a family?
- How often do they eat out?
- What types of food do they typically eat?
- How much television does the family watch each day?
- How much time does the family spend being physically active each day?
- Does the child have any friends who are obese?
- How does the child feel about their weight and their body image?
- Does the child have any emotional or behavioral problems that may be related to their obesity?
- What are the child’s eating habits?
- What are the family’s eating habits?
- Does the child eat breakfast every day?
- Does the child eat a lot of fast food or processed foods?
- Does the child eat a lot of sugary drinks?
- Does the child get enough exercise?
- Does the child spend a lot of time sitting in front of a screen (television, computer, video games)?
- Is the child getting enough sleep?
- Is the child under a lot of stress?
- Have there been any recent changes in the child’s life (new school, new baby in the family, divorce, death in the family)?
- Does anyone in the family have diabetes or any other chronic health condition?
- Are they at risk for developing diabetes or other obesity-related health problems?
- Are there any genetic factors that may contribute to obesity (e.g., polycystic ovarian syndrome)?
- Is the mother overweight or obese?
- Was the mother overweight or obese during pregnancy?
- Are other family members obese or overweight?
- Did the mother smoke during pregnancy?
- Did the mother drink alcohol during pregnancy?
- Was the child born prematurely or at a low birth weight?
- Does the child eat when they’re hungry or eat because food is there?
- Do family members eat high-calorie, high-fat foods often?
- Does the child like to eat high-calorie, high-fat foods?
- What is the child’s activity level?
- Is the child’s weight affecting their health?
- Is there a lot of junk food in the house?
- How much time does the family spend together participating in physical activities?
- What is the family’s attitude towards food and exercise?
- Are meals seen as a time to bond or are they just another chore to get through?
- Is exercise seen as a necessary part of life or something that’s only for people who are trying to lose weight?
- Has the child been evaluated by a doctor or other healthcare provider for obesity?
- Would the family be willing to make changes to their eating and activity habits if it meant improving the child’s health?
- What can be done to help the child lose weight safely and effectively?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the leading cause of childhood obesity?
The leading cause of childhood obesity is usually a lack of physical activity. Children spend more and more time in front of screens, whether it be watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. This lack of physical activity leads to weight gain and can eventually lead to obesity. Other causes of childhood obesity include poor nutrition and genetic factors.
How does childhood obesity affect self-esteem?
Childhood obesity can have a significant impact on self-esteem. Obese children are often teased and bullied by their classmates, which can lead to feelings of inferiority. They may also feel self-conscious about their appearance and not fit in with their peers. This can seriously affect their emotional well-being and lower their self-esteem.
How can you prevent childhood obesity?
One way to prevent obesity in children is to encourage them to be physically active. This can be as simple as playing outside or going for a walk. It’s also important to make sure kids get enough exercise at school. Another way to prevent obesity is to eat a healthy diet. Children should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks.
Are parents the cause of childhood obesity?
There is no single answer to this question, as obesity can be caused by a variety of factors. However, some experts believe that parental behavior – such as providing unhealthy foods or not modeling healthy eating habits – may be a major cause of childhood obesity. It is important for parents to be mindful of the foods they offer their children and to set a good example themselves by eating healthy.
Childhood obesity is a complex problem with no easy answers. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, talk to his or her doctor or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Together, you can develop a plan to help your child reach and maintain a healthy weight while avoiding any fad diets or quick fixes!
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