American kids aren’t getting fatter, but there are still way too many obese children. This is the takeaway of a recent survey chronicling 9 years of obesity in children and teens 2-18. From 2003-2012 doctors monitored and observed the abdominal waist sizes of children. The results showed in 2003 18% of those children were considered obese. Nine years later that number held true, and doctors credit lifestyle changes implemented in the schools and at home.
Abdominal obesity takes precedence over other key areas over the body as it leads to the most health problems Web MD reports. While progress has been made, researchers say about 1/3rd of teens are still considered obese. With early obesity increasing the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life, doctors are imploring healthy habits be instilled in children as early as possible. Much progress has been made already with the removal of sodas from vending machines and healthier options being given during school lunch.
One rate that saw a dramatic rise for children was severe obesity. While obesity can be used to classify anyone who is overweight for their projected height, severe obesity, as it’s name would suggest, covers the higher end of the obesity spectrum. It’s a trend that has doctors like Yale’s David Katz worrying that the question of obesity may change over time…
"We may no longer learn that much by asking how many kids are overweight now? We may need to ask how overweight are kids?"
Schools, and vending machines have long been a target to keeping children healthy, now doctors are saying it’s the parents responsibility to instill that lifestyle. Offering a wider array of food options other than the standard American household is a good start. This helps destroy the notion that all good foods taste horrible. Toss out that can of green beans for a nice hummus, and give the kids something delicious to eat that also helps their bodies.
As a middle class American, this really hit home. I didn’t even know what hummus was until I got to college, and the only vegetables I ate growing up were in a can. Convenience is king in most households, so I can’t fault my working parents for going the quick and easy route, but doctors say this is the problem we are facing. Change starts in the home, and while having a fat kid isn’t the worst thing in the world, having a healthier one would be far better.