Obesity is a disorder involving excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems. If a person eats more calories than their body needs, and doesn’t burn enough calories through activity, the result is weight gain. The most common way to determine if a person is overweight is by comparing the patient’s height and weight in a measurement called Body Mass Index or BMI. After the BMI is calculated it is then plotted on a standardized growth chart to determine whether a person is overweight or obese. If excessive weight gain occurs and a person’s BMI is above the 97th percentile for their age, they are considered obese.
In 2012, more than one third of adolescents were obese or overweight. Obesity is a serious health concern in children and adolescents. Obesity has both immediate and long term health effects such as pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, hypertension, and puts them at increased risk for cancer. Overweight and obese children have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults.
Obesity increases the child’s risk of many health, emotional, and social problems. Although there are some genetic and hormonal causes in childhood obesity, most of the time it is caused by a “calorie imbalance”-which is too few calories expended for the excessive amount of calories consumed.
Many factors can increase a child’s risk of becoming overweight:
- Diet – eating high calorie and high sugar foods such as fried foods, candies and desserts; drinking sugar sweet beverages, etc.
- Lack of exercise
- Family history
- Psychological factors – emotional eating, stress eating, etc.
- Environmental factors – unhealthy convenience foods in the home, poor dietary habits of others in the home, etc.
- Low income backgrounds
Some general goals to help aid with weight loss:
- Avoid sugary beverages.
- Exercise daily.
- Choose grains that are high in fiber and protein.
- Avoid late night snacking.
- Choose low fat protein sources.
- Eat appropriate portions of each food group.
For treatment of obesity to be successful, life-long behavioral changes must be made, not just dieting or exercising for several weeks. Every patient and family is individualized; therefore scheduling an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) to help your family and child succeed with a weight loss plan would be beneficial. RDNs are trained to set reasonable goals for your family to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Please call (865) 546-3998 for a personal dietary evaluation and plan. We have a pediatric weight management program called Bee Fit 4 Kids, please visit our website at www.beefit4kids.com for more information.