The problem of childhood obesity has skyrocketed in the United States. Approximately 16 to 33 percent of children and teens are considered obese. While obesity is one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnosis, it can be one of the most difficult to treat. Poor diet and lack of exercise results in over 300,000 deaths every year. Unless overweight children learn healthy eating and exercise habits, they will grow into unhealthy, overweight adults.
A child carrying around a few extra pounds is not judged obese, but may show a tendency for easy weight gain. Typically, a child considered obese when their weight is at least 10 percent higher for the height and body type as recommended by their doctor. Childhood obesity usually begins between the ages of 5 and 6 and during adolescence. Pre-teens who are obese between the ages of 10 and 13 have an 80 percent chance of growing an obese adult.
The Cause of Obesity
Complex causes of obesity in children includes genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors. Having one obese parent equals a 50 percent increase their child will be overweight. When both parents are obese, the chances their kids will be obese increases to 80 percent. Less than 1 percent of all obesity in adolescents is caused by physical problems. Simply stated, when a teenager eats more calories than their body burns up, they become obese. Generally, obesity in childhood and adolescence results from:
How To Manage and Treat Obesity in Adolescents
A family physician or pediatrician should perform a thorough medical evaluation to determine any physical causes of obesity in children. When there are no physical disorders behind the excess weight, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories through activity than what is consumed by food. A combination of diet and exercise will ensure lasting weight loss. Often, obesity affects many family members, so a family that can exercise together will improve the chances of long term success for everyone.
Ways To Manage Obesity
A child psychiatrist can also help a family deal with the emotional issues of being obese. By working with the family physician, an adolescent psychiatrist can help develop a comprehensive treatment plan that includes attainable weight loss goals; diet, nutrition and exercise programs; and behavior modification, counseling, and family involvement.