Child and Teen Obesity Rates Not Going Down
A new analysis of obesity rates among children and teens ages two to nineteen suggests that rates are not in a decline, despite small studies that have suggested this. Current evidence suggests no decline in any of the child and teen age group, despite efforts over the last decade to tackle the worrisome health issue.
Lead author of The Obesity Study, Dr. Ashley Skinner said that her findings indicate that currently about 4.5 million children and teens in the U.S. have severe obesity. Currently, children and teens are diagnosed with weight issues and classified as having Class I, II or II obesity. Those classifications correspond to adult BMIs of:
• Class I is equivalent to an adult BMI of 30-34.9
• Class II is equivalent to an adult BMI of 35 – 39.9
• Class III is equivalent to an adult BMI of 40 or greater
Dr. Skinner suggests that there needs to be an expansion of successful local level efforts that have been shown to intercept obesity, and the ongoing health challenge will require a “population health approach” which needs to include efforts directed at individuals, healthcare approaches and policies at the community level.
Are We Making Progress in the Prevention and Control of Childhood Obesity suggests that severe childhood obesity is substantially more prevalent in the Hispanic and black communities. It also confirms that rates of obesity between 1999 and 2014 have increased, despite a small decline noted in 2011 to 2012. What we do know about kids in lower socioeconomic situations is that they tend to experience more stress. Stress eating can be learned at a young age. It can also be caused by the concern about where or when your next meal is coming. When food does appear, children and teens may overconsume as a natural stress response to not knowing if there will even be a “next meal.”
A recent report in The Atlantic explores how the intricate stress-response network that links together the brain, the immune system, and the endocrine system can be primed in a less than optimal way due to constant stress. Experiencing constant stress can disrupt executive functions, in addition to prompting less optimal coping behaviors. Emotional or stress eating can result in excessive weight gain, especially in teens who often abandon sports or fitness pursuits in favor of a stronger connection to their tech devices. That usually results in more sedentary behavior. Coupled with a highly processed diet and eating to cope with stress, you have the perfect roadmap for obesity.
Tips to help teens to avoid obesity:
• A daily balanced breakfast can fuel your mind and body
• Walk or bike to school to get some exercise in the morning and afternoon
• Make water and unsweetened tea and one or two servings of 1% or fat free milk your beverages of choice
• Have a lean protein at every meal and make fruits and vegetables your go to snack
• Get involved in a team sport
• Use the weekends to hike, bike or play other sports you enjoy
• Find other ways to de-stress without turning to food (dance to music, take a hot shower, go for a run)
• Get your family engaged with healthier menu planning and cooking since home-cooked meals tend to have healthier, fresher ingredients.