Thursday, January 15th, 2015
Childhood obesity is an issue in the U.S — the amount of children who are obese has tripled in recent years, and a quarter of preschool-aged kids are also overweight or obese. Although the White House has gotten involved in the fight against childhood obesity with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, along with many schools across the nation, a large percentage of children are actually overweight before they start kindergarten or first grade.
Thankfully, a study released in the journal Pediatrics says that the federally-funded Head Start preschool program can help in fighting against obesity, in addition to helping young children prepare for kindergarten. The study involved 43,700 Michigan preschool-age children, which included 19,000 kids enrolled in Head Start, which is free for 3- to 5-year-olds from families living in poverty. Before the study began, nearly one-third of the Head Start kids were considered obese or overweight, but they ended up with a healthier weight than the children who were not in the program.
“Even though children in the Head Start group began the observation period more obese, equally overweight, and more underweight than children in the comparison groups, at the end of the observation period the initially obese and overweight Head Start children were substantially less obese and overweight than the children in the comparison groups,” says the survey’s authors, which includes lead researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng.
A few reasons for the weight loss might be rooted in the holistic lessons that Head Start imparts to young kids at a crucial time, such as educating them on eating healthy foods and being more physically active, which contribute to making a child’s overall mental health better. All this can help decrease stress and TV time and increase sleep time. With Head Start steering children toward healthier habits and fostering structured routines, children are also more likely to make better choices in their lives.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Preschool-aged children via Shutterstock
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Child Health, childhood obesity, children's health, early childhood education, Education, Head Start, kid's health, obesity, obesity epidemic, physical education, Preschool, preschool program, preschoolers, severe obesity | Categories:
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Thursday, June 26th, 2014
The obesity rate among American kids may actually be higher than the 18 percent of children the Centers for Disease Control currently classifies as obese, according to an analysis published in the journal Pediatric Obesity. As many as 25 percent of obese or overweight kids may not be counted because the tally is based on the body mass index (BMI), a calculation that researchers say is flawed because children’s height and weight change rapidly as they grow–and not always in proportion with each other.
More from The Wall Street Journal:
“BMI is not capturing everybody who needs to be labeled as obese,” said Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, director of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who headed the study with Asma Javed, a pediatric endocrinology fellow.
Measuring body-mass index is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to screen for obesity among large groups of people, such as children in a school setting. A problem is that BMI, a calculation based on a person’s height and weight, isn’t well suited to children because their height and weight don’t proportionally increase as they grow, said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who wasn’t involved with the Mayo study.
“It doesn’t mean that we cannot use BMI in childhood but it requires extra caution,” she said.
Other recent research has linked everything from sleep deprivation to weight-based name calling with an elevated risk of childhood obesity. Research released earlier this year had claimed a significant drop in the childhood obesity rate in the U.S., but subsequent research actually showed a sharp increase in the number of severely obese kids.
Image: Scale, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Despite a spate of recent studies claiming a drop in the childhood obesity rate–especially one study that claimed a 43 percent drop in preschoolers with weight problems–new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found a sharp rise in the number of U.S. kids who are severely obese. More from CNN:
The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.
Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category – meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
“I think there’s certain kids who are at greatest risk for obesity,” said lead study author Asheley Skinner, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “When you put them in an environment like this one… they’re more likely to gain a whole lot of weight. That’s part of what’s going on.”
The risks associated with that extra weight are scary.
Obese children are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also at risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and psychological problems due to poor self-esteem. Studies show that obese children and adolescents are likely to remain obese as adults.
A separate study published in the journal Pediatrics this week estimates an obese child will incur anywhere from $12,000 to $19,000 in additional medical costs throughout his or her lifetime compared to a normal weight child.
Image: Blocks spelling “Obese,” via Shutterstock
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