Obesity is a serious condition at any age, but it can be particularly dangerous for children. Besides the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, obesity at an early age can cause psychological issues related to self-esteem and eating habits.
Unfortunately, childhood obesity is worse than ever in the United States. However, there are many steps that everyone can take to curb the problem, especially parents.
Childhood Obesity by the Numbers
From the early 20th century until the 1990s, childhood obesity rates remained relatively low – less than 8.5% But in the last 20 years, that number has almost doubled – today about 17% of children in the United States are obese, and one out of every three children is obese or overweight. Childhood obesity is also more prevalent in African-American and Hispanic communities.
What causes childhood obesity?
Obesity is a complex condition that can be caused by a number of factors. It is often tied to socioeconomic status, as both adults and children in low-income communities are at greater risk of obesity. Also, the rise of the “screen” – devices like iPads, tablets, and computers – is contributing to inactivity in children.
Some ideas for helping to prevent childhood obesity include:
- Encourage children to form groups to play together
- Schedule time to be active together as a family
- Share resources and information online to raise awareness
The American Inn of Bethesda is committed to working with our partners in the community, including the NIH and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, to curb the spread of obesity and other dangerous diseases.