5 Strongest Signs Of Aliens & Alien Life
5 Percent of U.S. Children Now Classified as Severely Obese
Damage to the heart can last a lifetime for growing numbers of obese U.S. youngsters. Plus, 10 steps to protect your kids' heart health.
By Jennifer J. Brown, PhD
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurHeart HealthNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
MONDAY Sept 9, 2013 —A new class of heart risk called “severe obesity” shines a light on the serious health consequences for seriously overweight children, according to a new statement from the American Heart Association published today in the journal Circulation.
Up to 17 percent of U.S. children are obese, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control — nearly triple the number in 1980. Now, 5 percent fall in the new category of severe obesity, putting their young hearts at even greater risk and causing damage that can last a lifetime.
A child's obesity classification is determined by comparison to peers of the same gender and age, based on body mass index, essentially, weight compared to height: BMI = (pounds x 703) divided by (inches of height squared):
- Obesity = BMI above the 95th percentile for their peer group
- Severe obesity = BMI 20 percentabovethe 95th percentile
Severe obesity is a high-risk category. The lead author of the Circulation statement, Aaron Kelly, PhD, said in a statement that severe obesity is on the rise. “It’s a much more serious childhood disease than obesity,” wrote Dr. Kelly, who is a researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
"We are seeing increasing obesity we cannot easily treat," said cardiologist Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Children who are severely obese need lifestyle changes, and potentially also medication. In some cases, kids may need weight-loss surgery to protect their health. Currently only one obesity medication, orlistat, is FDA-approved for use in adolescents 12 years or older. And most health insurance does not cover weight-loss surgery for youths, the new report points out. In addition, said Dr. Fuster, "There are risks with bariatric surgery — not an appealing answer to the problem."
Severe Obesity and Health Risks
Obesity causes the major risk factors for heart disease — high cholesterol and high blood pressure — that are now seen at younger ages. Severe obesity further defines the health risks. Controlling obesity as a risk for heart disease is particularly important now because heart conditions like heart attack and stroke are the No. 1 killer of adults in the United States.
For severely obese children, atherosclerosis — a dangerous buildup of fat in the blood vessels — can even begin during childhood, according to the new statement. The weight issue may persist lifelong, as two-thirds of adult patients who are obese were obese as children, said Fuster.
In children, obesity is a concern for more than just long-term health outcomes. It is also linked to immediate health conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- Fatty liver disease
- Sleep apnea (obstruction of breathing during sleep)
- Strain on the bones and joints
- Psychosocial problems including depression
- Eating disorders including binge eating and loss-of-control eating
10 Tips for Prevention and Treatment of Severe Obesity in Kids
The good news is that childhood severe obesity is preventable. And back-to-school days are a good time to implement new heart-healthy habits. "If I have a person who is very obese at a young age, the question is, why were we not able to prevent it?" Fuster commented. "Obesity has many causes," he added. For each patient he asks, "What is the origin? Is it the diet, genetics, anxiety?" Knowing the source helps him develop the right individual treatment, which may include diet advice for the whole family.
How can parents prevent or reduce the risk of obesity in their children?
Fuster provided these 10 health tips for parents:
- Start prevention early, when your child is 3 to 5 years old.
- Lead by example by eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Ensure that healthy eating habits and exercise are part of your child’s daily routine.
- Educate your child about good and poor nutrition choices.
- Avoid giving children access to food containing excessive fat, sugar, and salt.
- Introduce daily healthy food and snack options: water, fruits and vegetables.
- Limit soft drinks and fast-food consumption.
- Encourage daily aerobic activities such as walking, bicycling, skating, and swimming.
- Play with your child to encourage physical activity.
- Limit your child’s television watching and computer play.
Taking Fuster’s steps can help protect children’s hearts from the devastating effects of severe obesity in childhood. Fuster is working on ongoing research projects to teach children about diet and exercise using Sesame Street, and they're showing promising results.
Video: 10 Pieces of Evidence Aliens Exist!
Avocado Grape Salad with Walnuts
13 Slimming Style Tricks That Take Off Years
Anna Sui Fairy Dance 2012 Summer Fragrance
Things To Do In Edinburgh
Boston Cream Pie
How to Stay Close to an Old Friend when at Different Schools, Universities or Jobs
The 5 Biggest Lies Youve Been Told About Your Hair
7 Fall Bag Trends That Are About To Take Over
How to get published tour kicks off
How to Participate In a Solo and Ensemble Festival
How to Get Married in Court