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Living the Good LifeChildhood Obesity Fact: Fast Food Causing Obesity in Children
Fast Food Lovers Beware: Our obsession with fast-food is causing an epidemic in us - and our children. Childhood obesity statistics reveal a tripling of the number of overweight kids. Learn how to curb the appetite and reel in weight gain.
Considering America's love of the golden arches, french fries and burgers, it's no surprise that children are getting bigger. The latest childhood obesity statistics find the percentage of children and teenagers who are overweight has tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Center for Disease Control. One-third of overweight students are so heavy they will probably have serious health problems later in life.
Consumption of fast foods by children has skyrocketed since the late 1970s. In the late 1970s, children consumed about two percent of their daily meals from fast food; that increased to 10 percent by the mid-1990s. Things have becomeso serious that the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher has declared childhood obesity an epidemic. Is fast food causing childhood obesity? Fast food is characterized by a high fat content so a logical question is, "How does frequent use of fast food meals influence the nutrient intake of our children and youth?"
Children who eat fast food (compared to those who did not) are found to have the following:
• Higher level of calorie intake
Eating fast food on a frequent basis does not provide the recommended nutrient intake for optimal growth and development of children. More calories, unless balanced by increased activity, will result in increased body fat and weight. Does this mean if your child is active he or she can consume more fast food safely? Although their bodies may not show the effect of eating fast food because they are burning off the calories, the lack of nutrients is affecting their overall health so it is best to avoid fast food as much as possible.
Here are some ideas to reduce the dependency we have on fast foods:
• Be aware of the negative health effects of regular use of fast foods.
We are building a nation of children seriously at risk of starting out obese and then living the rest of their lives trying to overcome tough illnesses. When we talk obese, we are not referring to slightly robust, rotund, round or chubby these are children who are more than 20 percent above their ideal weight. These are children whose weight makes it hard for them to move around, get up stairs and even breathe.
Often parents think it is simply a matter of what their child looks like but in reality doctors are finding that more and more severely overweight children have medical problems such as a fatty liver, a precursor to liver disease, high blood pressure, and an increasing likelihood of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, obese children are becoming prime candidates for heart attacks and strokes even while in their teens.
How can you tell if your child is overweight, obese, or falls within the normal range? Doctors usually calculate your body mass index (BMI) a number based on height and weight. BMI is a mathematical formula which is used to measure obesity. BMI is determined by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and then multiplying by 705. Under 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is normal, 25 to 29.9 is overweight and over 30 is considered obese.
Help your children have the healthiest possible start in life. Take the time to plan meals and educate them on the reasons they need to learn to make good decisions now to make it easier later.
By Christina Leon, Staff Writer