The best way to understand obesity is to talk to your doctor. Talking about weight is a sensitive subject – especially when it comes to children. Childhood “overweight” and “obesity” are terms indicating that a child weighs more than what is considered healthy for his or her height. Overweight and obesity are defined by a child’s body mass index (BMI) percentile on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) growth charts for boys and girls. Children with a BMI at the 95th percentile or higher have an increased risk for health problems.
Overweight (BMI at the 85th percentile or higher) and obesity (BMI at the 95th percentile or higher) are associated with several physical and emotional effects, including:
- Poorer mental health outcomes
- Increased risk of chronic diseases
- Reduced quality of life
- Feelings of guilt or shame
Childhood obesity is a growing concern across the U.S. In Oklahoma alone, over a third of kids ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. Plus, we have the 7th highest high school obesity rate in the nation. Children who are obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) are also more likely to have prediabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea. Obese children are also at increased risk for severe obesity as an adult and premature death from chronic disease.
On top of the physical effects, children who struggle with weight gain may experience emotional issues as well. They may feel guilt or shame because of their size, and they may feel singled out from their friends and classmates.
If you think your child is overweight or obese, talk with their doctor about your child’s health. There are many resources for helping you to improve your child and family’s weight-related health behaviors, such as nutrition, activity, screen time, and sleep. Explore the links below for more helpful tips and resources.
TIPS FOR TALKING TO YOUR KIDS
You can help your kids start living healthier today! Learn about how to start a conversation.
WHAT CAUSES OBESITY?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity results from a combination of factors, including your child’s genetics. However, the main contributors of excess weight gain include unhealthy food choices, inactive lifestyles and lack of quality sleep. Another major contributor? Drinking too many sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, juice and energy drinks. Beverages like these are loaded with sugar and empty calories. One 12-oz. soda contains up to 10 packets of sugar – that’s more sugar than three glazed donuts!
CHILDHOOD OBESITY STATISTICS
In Oklahoma, childhood obesity is a growing epidemic. See the stats.
WAYS TO GET ACTIVE
Moving for 60 minutes every day can reduce a child’s risk of overweight and obesity. Help your kids move with these kid-friendly activities.