A worrisome trend in child and teen obesity is becoming apparent.
According to the data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in 1999-2000, 15% of children and teenagers ages 6-19 are overweight or obese. This amounts to almost 9 million children and teens, which is triple the number from 1980.
Also, the data suggests that another 15% of children and teens are at risk for becoming overweight in the present decade (2000-2010).
Obesity in children and teenagers is a serious problem due to the following:
It prolongs the time the individual is exposed to the health risks of obesity.
It increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, blood clots, diabetes type 2, and certain types of cancer at a young age
It creates psychological problems related to a poor body image, and may lead to strained relationships with peers.
Unfortunately, it appears that individuals who are overweight beginning at a young age tend to be more refractory to measures meant to normalize their weight. As such, the problem is more likely to persist and worsen in the long run.
This being said, the role of the parents in such situations is paramount. Careful supervision of the child's food intake is required. Avoidance of fast food and junk food are essential. Evaluation of the child or teen by a nutritionist is extremely useful in establishing a proper diet, and providing the parent with the needed information.