A staggering three out of five children in the United States today are on the path to becoming obese by age 35, according to a recent study.
Using current national data, The New England Journal of Medicine developed a simulation model to predict growth trajectories. It used height and weight data from a national sample of 41,567 children and adults to draw it conclusions.
The result: an eye-opening 57 percent of children ages 2 to 19 in 2016 will be obese by the time they are 35 years old.
“To put that in perspective, the current rate of obesity among 35-year olds is 35 percent to 40 percent,” lead study author Zachary Ward at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston told Reuters Health.
“It seems the excess weight gained in childhood puts kids on a trajectory that persists,” Ward continued.
The latest numbers on obesity from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that 39.8 percent of adults are obese, while 18.5 percent of the nation’s youth are obese.
Predictions in the study are alarming. The older an obese child and teen, the higher the chances obesity continues for that person. The report projects that an obese 2-year old has a 75 percent chance to be obese by age 35. Obese 19-year olds have an 88 percent chance.
“Only those children with a current healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of becoming obese by the age of 35 years,” the study concluded.
People who are overweight or obese have a much higher risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and bone and joint disease. Childhood obesity is linked to psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
“Children with obesity now could benefit from early intervention” Ward said in the Reuters Health article.
A child’s health is the responsibility of all of us. Parents, teachers, health officials, educators and politicians all have a role into ensuring a child is getting the best start possible.
Parents are the best role models for their children. Parents that have a healthy, nutritious diet are more likely to have children that have the same. To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and growth and encourage healthy eating habits by:
- Providing plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans for protein
- Serve reasonably-sized portions
- Encouraging your family to drink lots of water
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat
The goal for children who are overweight is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without first talking to a health care provider.
When it comes to eating at school, one of the best things parents can do for their children is to pack them a nutritious lunch. Not only does a healthy lunch help the child maintain a healthy weight, studies have shown a correlation between healthy eating and increased concentration. Involving kids in the decision-making process helps them feel more interested in their lunches and excited about eating healthy. It also prepares them for making better decisions in the future.
Children should also be active, getting at least 60 minutes of activity a day. Click here for more ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight.
For The New England Journal of Medicine’s report on obesity, click here.
For the Reuters’ article about the obesity report, click here.