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You’ve probably read about it in newspapers and seen it on the news: in the United States, the number of obese children and teens has continued to rise over the past two decades. You may wonder: Why are doctors and scientists troubled by this trend?

Doctors and scientists are concerned about the rise of obesity in children and youth because obesity may lead to the following health problems: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea.

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that occurs when a child or adolescent is well above normal weight for age and height. Lifestyle issues including too many calories and too little exercise contribute to childhood obesity. Though not common, genetic and hormonal disorders can also predispose a child to obesity.

Many risk factors increase a child’s risk of becoming overweight. These include:

Diet: Regularly eating high calorie foods including fast foods, vending machine snacks or sweets and desserts can easily cause weight gain.

Lack of exercise: Too much time spent in sedentary activities including watching tv or playing video games can contribute to weight gain issues since too little calories are burned.

Family Factors: If a child comes from a family of overweight people they can be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high calories snacks and limited exercise are always present.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Childhood Overweight and Obesity?

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 normal growth.

Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.

Remember if you have questions or concerns about the weight of your child or adolescent contact your healthcare provider today and schedule an appointment.