Beverages Play Important Role in Child Nutrition
Between 5-25 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are obese. As with adults, the prevalence of obesity in the young varies by ethnic group. It is estimated that 5-7 percent of White and Black children are obese, while 12 percent of Hispanic boys and 19 percent of Hispanic girls are obese.
Foodfacts.com has discovered some data indicating that obesity among children is on the increase. The second National Children and Youth Fitness Study found 6-9 year olds to have thicker skinfolds than their counterparts in the 1960s. During the same period, others documented a 54 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity among 6-11 year olds.
Defining Obesity in Children and Adolescents
Obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity is present when total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls. Although childhood obesity is often defined as a weight-for-height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal, skinfold measures are more accurate determinants of fatness.
A trained technician may obtain skinfold measures relatively easily in either a school or clinical setting. The triceps alone, triceps and subscapular, triceps and calf, and calf alone have been used with children and adolescents. When the triceps and calf are used, a sum of skinfolds of 10-25mm is considered optimal for boys, and 16-30mm is optimal for girls.
The Problem of Obesity
Not all obese infants become obese children, and not all obese children become obese adults. However, the prevalence of obesity increases with age among both males and females, and there is a greater likelihood that obesity beginning even in early childhood will persist through the life span.
Obesity presents numerous problems for the child. In addition to increasing the risk of obesity in adulthood, childhood obesity is the leading cause of pediatric hypertension, is associated with Type II diabetes mellitus, increases the risk of coronary heart disease, increases stress on the weight-bearing joints, lowers self-esteem, and affects relationships with peers. Some authorities feel that social and psychological problems are the most significant consequences of obesity in children.