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Why is it important to keep kids at a healthy weight?

Childhood obesity is prevalent in the United States. Kids that are overweight or obese are at higher risk to develop many medical problems. The CDC reports that the number of children that are overweight has doubled in the last 30 years and tripled among adolescents. Kids are considered overweight if their body mass index (which is a calculation based on their height and weight) is above the 85th percentile for children of the same sex and age. Obesity is defined by the body mass index reaching a level of 95th percentile or above. Recent statistics show that in the United States almost 23% of kids age 2 to 5 years old are either overweight or obese. It jumps up to a staggering 34% for kids 6 years of age and up. This alarming trend places children at an increased risk for developing a wide range of medical problems that where in the past only commonly seen in adults. Some of the more serious medical conditions that are increasingly encountered are diabetes type II, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. All of these medical problems are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease.

The problem we are facing today is that kids 8, 10 or 12 years old develop these medical problems which exposes their body to many more years of elevated blood sugar, cholesterol or high blood pressure as compared to adults who may develop these problems later in life. The longer our bodies are exposed to these conditions, the more likely they are to lead to health complications. This will significantly impact their lives by decreasing quality of life, longevity or both. It’s important to understand that getting kids to lose weight is extremely important, not only for cosmetic purposes and helping with self-esteem but to decrease their future risk for developing medical conditions that can significantly impact their overall quality of life.

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