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Childhood Obesity

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Over the past thirty years, childhood obesity has doubled among young children and adolescents in the United States (National Institute of Health, 2014). It is becoming a great concern for parents as children are getting heavier and heavier (Eberstadt, 2013). Fast food restaurants, among other reasons, can be to blame for this. Obesity, which should be identified before any problems can occur, has many causes which has lead it to become an epidemic in the United States, however there are several preventions and treatments that parents can execute to help their children live healthy lives. Nevertheless, this requires parents to educate themselves about obesity.

Obesity is defined as the excessive accumulation of body fat. One’s total body weight would be more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent in girls if he or she were to become obese. A trained technician may obtain skin fold measures by triceps alone, triceps and sub scapular, triceps and calf, and calf alone. In triceps and calf, a sum of skin fold of 10-25 mm. is considered optimal in boys, and 16-30 mm. in girls (Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, 2014).

Besides the skin fold test, there are other ways to measure excess fat. A measurement called Percentile of Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used to identify overweight and obese children. If a child is in the 85th percentile, he or she is at risk level to becoming obese. For adults, this means that one is overweight. If a child reaches the 95th percentile, which corresponds to a BMI of 30, obesity in adults, than the child is at a severe level. The 95th percentile identifies children that are very likely to have obesity persist in adulthood, and is associated with elevated blood pressure and lipids in older adolescents, and an increased risk of diseases. The 95th percentile is also a sign that the child needs aggressive treatment (American Obesity Association, 2014).

Obesity among children is increasing on a day-to-day basis. Between 5-25 percent of children and teens in the United States are obese: about 15.5 percent of adolescents (age 12-19) and 15.3 percent of children (ages 6-11). Of children, 7 percent were obese from 1976-1980, 11 percent from 1988-1994, and most recently 15.3 percent from 1999-2000. Of adolescents, 5 percent were obese from 1976-1980, 11 percent from 1988-1994, and an outstanding 18.
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