According to a recent study conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) and appearing in their journal Circulation, childhood obesity and the number of severely obese children is on the rise. The startling results show obesity affects 17 percent of children, with five percent of children struggling with severe obesity. It is affecting their lives in numerous ways, including their physical and cardiovascular health, malnutrition, lack of physical activity, Type 2 Diabetes, and emotional issues with bullying, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
More Severely Obese Children
The study looked at children throughout the United States, where it was already known that obesity was a growing problem. Not only was it looking at the statistics of overweight children, but also of children in the severely obese category. This is determined by their body mass index (BMI), which goes by age, height and weight, in combination with comparing to the rest of their age group. Children and teen are considered overweight if their BMI is within the 85th percentile of others, while obesity means they are in the 95th percentile. Above the 95th percentile is signaling toward severe obesity.
Children and Hypertension
Another problem associated with obesity that is on the rise for children, is hypertension. This study and others also looked at how many obese children are also suffering from hypertension. This is affecting their blood pressure, cholesterol, caused osteoarthritis and joint pains, and even leads to type 2 diabetes. Obesity as a child leads to further complications as an adult, like stroke or heart attack.
Importance of Bariatric Surgery
Diet and exercise is the recommended course of action for obese children, though it isn’t effective for everyone. Some children and teens are still struggling with their weight, regardless of other methods they have tried. Because they have low self esteem, it is difficult to keep up with a diet plan when they are already dealing with anxiety and other emotions. In many cases, bariatric surgery helps them lose weight more quickly, and get healthier faster. For children who may be increasing their risk for stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure at such a young age, it is crucial that surgery become an alternative if other weight loss methods are not working.
As a parent, it is difficult to determine whether or not an elective surgery is necessary. Either way, there is definitive proof that obesity is a growing problem among children and teens in the U.S., and that it is leading to negative health complications.