Monday, February 18, 2013

Obesity in Childhood Can Have Lasting Effects

Obesity continues to be a serious problem worldwide.  Approximately one third of the U.S. population is obese. And many experts are trying to come up with ways to fight the disease. Fighting obesity is important since obesity is associated with a number of serious illnesses. Some of the illnesses are well known obesity-related ailments, but the number of these ailments may be greater than first thought. And the risk for obesity-related illnesses can start in childhood, with childhood obesity.

It is generally agreed that childhood obesity puts children at a higher risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease at some point in life. "But a large new study has found that obesity can also put children at risk for 20 other surprising health problems, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, allergies and ear infections. So curbing childhood obesity is important for the future."

Fortunately, there has been some success in the fight against childhood obesity. For example, the New York State WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program has helped New York reduce its childhood obesity. And Los Angeles has also introduced programs that have caused a decline in the disease.

However, many locales have not had the success that New York and Los Angeles have experienced. Success is hampered by many circumstances. One of these circumstances is the problem associated with accurately assessing obesity. Obesity is commonly measured using BMI.  BMI  is computed by dividing the weight of a person in kilograms (kg) by the person's height in meters (m) squared.  Weight and height are often self reported.  Because height is often overestimated, and weight is frequently underestimated, BMI is commonly underestimated.

But even with imperfect measuring methods and other problems,  specific steps can be taken to reduce childhood obesity as New York and Los Angeles have demonstrated. And more initiatives by stakeholders in more communities will continue to put a dent in childhood obesity. These initiatives can lessen the chances that children will face numerous illnesses in adulthood. Indeed, curbing childhood obesity is a problem requiring healthcare providers, policy makers, and citizens to work together to effectively solve the problem.

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