Child Hood Obesity - Weight Loss for Children
Increased access to and affordability of food in the Western hemisphere has led to great strides toward
decreasing the incidence of starvation among all but the poorest of children and adults. While access to food and
decreased incidences of starvation are a good thing, the type of foods that are being consumed by today’s children
is contributing to the growing problem of childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity is becoming more and more common, and there is concern that it is reaching epidemic
proportions. The children of today are, on average, heavier than the children of only few decades ago. Poor eating
habits and reduced activity levels are believed to be primary factors in the increased weight of modern
One unfortunate effect of readily available affordable food has been an increase in access to and consumption of
fast food and other processed foods and snacks. Modern children tend to eat a diet that contributes to obesity.
There is an unfortunate trend toward increased consumption of foods with high fat and processed sugar content, and
decreased consumption of whole foods rich in fiber. Such poor dietary habits are leading to steadily increasing
rates of childhood obesity.
Children of today are also more sedentary than children of the past. Children and teenagers spend a great deal
of time playing computer games, surfing the Internet, watching television, text messaging and chatting on the
telephone. Such sedentary activities have come to replace outdoor activities and games in the lives of many
Whereas the Body Mass Index (BMI) is the primary determinant for obesity in adults, for children, the BMI is
considered to be a more accurate indicator of obesity when it is combined with gender and age variables. This is
because the rapidly changing bodies and fluctuating metabolisms of children keep BMI alone from providing a
reliable assessment of obesity.
For example, adults with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered to have borderline obesity. Such a measure is
less meaningful when applied to children. Instead, borderline childhood obesity is designated for children who are
at the 95th percentile of BMI for their age and gender.
Body fat percentages are also useful for determining obesity. Male children with a percentage of body fat of 25%
or higher are considered to be obese. For female children, the body fat percentage that begins to indicate obesity
is 32%. Such gender specific differences are simply based on the fact that females naturally have a higher
percentage of body fat than males throughout all stages of life.
Children who are obese should follow a regular diet and exercise program that is designed to help them lose
excess weight and reduce body fat. Children who take steps to introduce healthy diet and exercise routines into
their daily lives at a young age will develop healthy habits that will follow them throughout their lives. The
earlier children develop good eating habits, the more likely it is that their positive dietary practices will keep
obesity at bay throughout childhood and on into adulthood.