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Childhood Obesity Rates are Rising

Childhood Obesity Rates Are on the Rise

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Teaching children healthy lifestyle habits has always been a priority for parents, but the current rise in childhood obesity rates is serving as a fierce reminder of how important those actions truly are.

Childhood Obesity Rates are Climbing Fast

Even as community-based and national school strategies for promoting healthy behaviors have been implemented to teach kids healthy lifestyle habits at a young age, US childhood obesity rates are on a solid climb.  The research pointing to this trend was recently published in the Pediatrics journal. 

The researchers followed two nationally representative groups of kids between the ages of about 6 to 11 years.  The first group of kids was studied between the years 1998 through 2004.  The second group was studied from 2010 through 2016.  There was an eye-opening difference in the childhood obesity rates between those two groups.

In the first group, about 15.5 percent of the kids who started kindergarten without any weight struggles ended up with obesity by the end of the fifth grade.  By the years of the second group, that figure had risen sharply to 16.2 percent.  What’s even more troubling about the data is that the second group also developed obesity at a younger age than the children in the first group.

The Earlier Weight Issues Started, the Greater the Obesity Risk

The researchers found that kids who were already overweight based on their BMI in preschool were at a notably higher childhood obesity risk than their peers who were not overweight by the time they were starting kindergarten. 

The study’s lead author, Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, an associate professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta underscored that once elevated weight gets started, it’s difficult to stop the trend from continuing. Therefore, the recommendation was to focus on getting ahead of it with prevention early in a child’s life.

Without intervention, medical professionals are afraid that the already existing trend of heart disease and cancers occurring at younger ages will only continue and worsen.  The earlier childhood obesity occurs and the more common it becomes, the greater the risk of other related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers, and at a younger age as well. Moreover, the concern is also that this trend will become multigenerational, as adults who suffered from childhood obesity pass their lifestyle habits on to their own kids.

Researchers underscore that childhood obesity is a disease and that this is a serious matter of public health.