Monday, November 22, 2010

Excess Childhood Weight Doubles Adult Obesity Rate

We’ve always been told that overweight adolescents are just carrying a little ‘baby fat’ and they’ll drop the chubby appearance as they grow older and taller. While this may be true for a small number of children, the vast majorities are being placed at considerable risk for the development of serious illness in middle life and reduced life expectancy.

Children and teens naturally need additional calories and nutrition to fuel their fast paced metabolism and accelerated growth. Researchers are beginning to understand that many diseases including heart disease and cancer begin to develop decades before clinical symptoms are detected. Excess body weight in youth provides the fuel for disease progression in later life. Small changes in diet at an early age can have a significant impact on overall health and longevity.

Study Confirms Childhood Overweight Results in Adult Obesity
The results of a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nearly 40% of obese adolescents can be expected to become severely obese by the age of 30. This is compared to only 2.5% of healthy weight and slightly overweight teenagers. The study found that gender did play a role in progression to adult obesity, as 37% of males and 51% of females in the study became severely obese in adulthood.

Understanding the Cause of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity rates have doubled over the past 20 years as nearly 16% of adolescents fall into the classification. Chronic childhood health problems have also doubled to 27% in the same period. Many theories abound to explain the problem, but it’s clear that the effects of diet and the environment impact the survival genes that have evolved to keep children alive through their reproductive years. Most children eat nearly twice as many calories as they require and get considerably less exercise than earlier generations.

The Effects of Super Sizing and Fructose
Many things have changed over the past 20 years that contribute to the obesity epidemic we are faced with in our children today. None is more significant than the portion size of meals, the proliferation of processed junk foods and the mass infusion of fructose as a sweetener into many foods and drinks. All of these factors result in altered metabolism and obesity in our youth. To make matters worse, levels of physical activity have declined as kids spend less time burning calories at play.

Ending the Obesity Cycle
The latest research shows that the obesity trend will continue through 2050, peaking at 42% of all men, women and children. While these numbers are devastating, they can be reversed with a plan to prevent overweight and obesity in adolescents. Studies show that eliminating the dietary and environmental factors that lead to excess weight can prevent the onset of health conditions that will plaque children into adult life.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that a plant-based diet seems to be a sensible approach for the prevention of obesity in children. While a strict vegetarian diet may not be the answer for all children, lowering caloric intake from fast food restaurants and limiting fructose from sweetened beverages and processed foods will provide immediate results. Children can make dietary and lifestyle changes easier than adults, and just need a little parental encouragement to alter the obesity cycle, lower disease risk in later life and improve longevity.


Jay said...

I have read that childhood obesity is triggering other health problems related to hormone regulation and puberty, and also triggering other genetic health problems that would have been kept in check if the children were healthy.

syeds said...

Does Hormonal regulation effects on child height growth as well.

Children Weight Gain