Childhood Obesity: The Facts Behind the ‘Epidemic’

Officially, obesity in children is defined as a body fat level that is more than 30 percent for girls and 25 percent for boys. Unlike adults, children are measured on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale according to their age and gender, as their height is frequently changing. For children between two and 19 years-old, Centers for Disease Control Growth Charts define those with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex as overweight; those with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile are classified as obese.

It isn’t easy to pin down exactly what caused this, well, trend. For Deborah Levy, the answer is twofold.

“First, these kids are less active,” she explains. “Years ago, kids would ride bikes to go to friends’ houses; today they are driven everywhere. Kids also used to have a gym class at school almost every day of the week. Now, gym classes are only a couple of days a week. Our tweens and teens spend more time on the computer, cell phone, playing hand-held games, and watching TV than playing ball or jumping rope outside. Next, portion sizes of the foods kids choose to eat often are growing in size. For example, bagels are twice the size of what they used to be and pizza slices are much larger as well.  So, when kids don’t realize what portion sizes should be and think they can enjoy a bagel or two slices of pizza, what they don’t realize is they may be taking in the equivalent of two bagels or four slices of pizza in calorie and fat content.”

Click here to read this article on The Daily Meal looks at the causes and effects of the childhood obesity issue and potential actions to help children and their parents who continue to struggle with this.