Youth Today

For the first time in our history, our youngest generation is on track to live a shorter lifespan than previous generations.  Diseases usually associated with the senior population are now growing to epidemic levels among our youth.  It is estimated that if we continue this current trend, healthcare systems will be bankrupt from the medical costs associated with obesity.  Diabetes is soaring, cardiovascular diseases are detected regularly, and obesity is reaching record levels.

Contributing Factors For This Troubling Trend?

  • Health education and exercise programs have been cut from school budgets.
  • High-tech gadgets and entertainment contribute to sedentary lifestyles.
  • Parents are busier and fast food is convenient.
  • Lack of support/systems to help one succeed in living a healthy life.

How is childhood overweight and obesity measured?

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure used to determine childhood overweight and obesity.  It is calculated using a child’s weight and height.  BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.

A child’s weight status is determined using an age and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults because children’s body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.

CDC Growth Charts are used to determine the corresponding BMI-for-age and sex percentile.  For children and adolescents (aged2-19 years):

  • Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.
  • Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.


What are the consequences of childhood obesity?

Health Risks Now

  • Childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways.  Obese children are more likely to have-
    • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).  In one study, 70% of obese children had at least one CVD risk factor, and 39% had two or more.
    • Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.
    • Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
    • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastroesophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).
    • Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social psychological problems such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.

Health risks later

  • Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.

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One Response to Youth Today

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