Despite efforts, childhood obesity in the United States continues to increase at an alarming rate. In fact, researchers from Duke Clinical Research Institute reported that we just saw the biggest increase in severe obesity over the last 30 years.
Associate professor and lead author, Asheley Skinner, Ph.D. explains, “Despite some other recent reports, we found no indication of a decline in obesity prevalence in the United States in any group of children aged 2 through 19…” While obesity research is typically ongoing, Skinner most recently analyzed data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which is a large compilation of health information.
The researchers found that for 2013-2014, 33.4% of children ages 2 through 19 were overweight. Among this group, 17.4% had obesity, which includes a range from the lower end of to the higher end of the designation. Skinner explains that severe obesity actually remains incredibly high among adolescents. To Skinner, this increase is the most disheartening and worrisome.
The commonness of severe obesity (adult BMI of 35 or higher) accounted for the sharpest rise form the previous reporting period. Among all overweight children analyzed, 6.3% had a BMI of at least 35 and another 2.4% of those had severe obesity, which was consistent with an adult BMI of 40 or more.
Due to the fact that an estimated 4.5 million children and teens have severe obesity, this new generation will require new, innovative and intensive efforts to steer them toward a healthier lifestyle. Skinner emphasizes, “Studies have shown that obesity in childhood is associated with worse health and shortened lifespans as adults.”
While progress has been made in addressing the issue and giving it the attention it deserves, reversing the problem is as difficult one-on-one as it is nationally. This particular study reminds us that we (as a country) may need to be more disruptive in our thinking about how we change our environment if we really want to see a difference.
Despite the fact that the study, of course, has limitations, obesity is still a population health problem in the United States that will require large-scale changes. Everything from food policy and access to health care to school curriculums and community resources will need to be addressed. The goal is to create healthy lifestyles for children and adults alike, encouraging healthier diets and more physical activity.
At Medical Metabolic Specialists, we do not see patients until they are at least 18 years old; however, healthy lifestyles start from parents and adults setting good examples. Thomas Power, chair of the Department of Human Development at Washington State University, said parents directly influence their child’s eating habits. Parents especially impact the development of a child’s preference for healthy foods as well as their ability to regulate how much they eat. For more information on how to develop healthy habits, contact the specialists at MMS.
Original Source: Science Daily
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