Obesity, a Growing Trend and Threat

New Frontiers

How bad is America’s obesity problem?

Approximately 30 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 15.3 per-cent are obese, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics. For adolescents ages 12 to 19, 30.4 percent are overweight and 15.5 percent are obese.

The adverse health effects associated with obesity in children and adolescents are many. Overweight kids suffer with asthma, type 2 Diabetes, persistently higher blood pressure, and orthopedic problems.

Type 2 Diabetes, which accounted for two to four percent of all childhood dia-betes before 1992, skyrocketed to 16 per-cent by 1994.

Persistently elevated blood pressure levels have been found to occur about nine times more frequently among obese children and adolescents, ages 5 to 18, than in non-obese kids. Obese children and adolescents are reported to be 2.4 times more likely to have high diastolic blood pressure and 4.5 times more likely to have high systolic blood pressure than their non-obese peers.

Among growing youth, bone and cartilage in the process of development are not strong enough to bear excess weight. As a result, a variety of orthopedic complications occur in children and adol-escents with obesity. In young children, excess weight can lead to bowing and overgrowth of leg bones.

Increased weight on the growth plate of the hip can cause pain and limit range of motion. Between 30 to 50 percent of child-ren with this condition are overweight.

There are psychosocial effects and social stigma problems, also. Girls who develop a negative body image are at a greater risk for the subsequent develop-ment of eating disorders.

Many obese children are taunted with weight-related teasing, jokes and derog-atory name calling, as well as less intentional, potentially hurtful comments by peers, family members, employers and strangers.

Overweight children and adolescents report negative assumptions made about them by others, including being inactive or lazy, being strong and tougher than others, not having feelings and being unclean.