Obesity is a high amount of body fat. It leads to a much higher body weight than is normal. This level of body fat can cause serious health issues.
Calories are consumed from food and drinks. They are necessary for physical activity and all basic body functions. A healthy weight is reached by balancing the number of calories you eat and the number of calories you use.
Weight gain occurs when the number of calories eaten is greater than the number of calories used. If this happens regularly, it will lead to obesity. Calorie imbalances happen most often with eating too much food and low levels of physical activity. Less often, it may be caused by a medical condition or medication.
Factors that may increase your child's risk of being obese include:
The main symptom of obesity is increased weight. The midsection is the most common area to increase in thickness. There will also be obvious areas of fat deposits all over the body.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Excess weight increases the chance of a child having:
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may use the body mass index (BMI). This is a tool to determine if a child's weight is ideal or outside of the desired range. BMI is based on height and weight. Normal values are based on a child's sex and age. In children, the BMI results are compared to the results of other children and teens in the same age range. This will account for growth and body changes as a child ages. BMI levels for anyone under age 20 are as follows:
Fat may need to be measured. This can be done with:
Your child's bodily fluid may be tested. This can be done with blood tests to look for other conditions that may increase body weight.
The doctor may also do other tests to check for complications of obesity. These may include checking your child's blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels.
Personal habits, lifestyle, and family culture can all influence obesity. This means that a mix of treatment approaches may be best. To help your child manage weight, encourage healthy behaviors in your child and your family:
Your doctor may recommend the following:
Your doctor may refer your child to a dietitian. A dietitian can help make a diet plan for your child. The plan may include a daily calorie goal, healthy food options, and tips to change your child’s diet.
Have your child follow basic healthy eating habits, such as:
Children rarely prepare their own foods. It is important that a parent participate in healthier eating habits. For example:
In more severe cases, your child may have to follow a meal plan.
Encourage your child to participate in physical activity. Sign older children up for sports or activities. Develop some family-based activities that everyone can enjoy.
General guidelines for your child include:
In more severe cases, your doctor may provide a specific activity plan.
Your child may struggle with weight loss or being obese. Some support options or actions include:
Some children who are obese may already have serious conditions due to weight. This may include problems with the heart or lungs, diabetes, or bone and joint problems. These conditions may require separate treatment.
Other children may have a hard time losing weight despite following guidelines. For these children, other options may be considered, such as:
To help reduce your child’s chance of being overweight or obese:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Heart Association
Dietitians of Canada
Children's BMI tool for schools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov... . Updated November 30, 2011. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Obesity in children and teens. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: http://www.aacap.o... . Updated March 2011. Accessed May 16, 2013.
NHLBI integrated guidelines for pediatric cardiovascular risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Obesity in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated April 17, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Overweight in children. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.o... . Updated January 16, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Overweight and obesity. Nemours' KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.... . Updated October 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Tips for parents: ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html . Updated October 31, 2011. Accessed May 16, 2013.
4/16/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Díaz RG, Esparza-Romero J, Moya-Camarena SY, Robles-Sardín AE, Valencia ME. Lifestyle intervention in primary care settings improves obesity parameters among Mexican youth. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(2):285-290.
10/15/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : US Food and Drug Administration. Meridia (sibutramine): market withdrawal due to risk of serious cardiovascular events. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Published October 8, 2010. Accessed October 15, 2010.
11/30/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Madsen KA, Weeden AE, Crawford PB. Disparities in peaks, plateaus, and declines in prevalence of high BMI among adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):434-442. Epub 2010 Aug 16.
11/30/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Suchindran C, North KE, Popkin BM, Gordon-Larsen P. Association of adolescent obesity with risk of severe obesity in adulthood. JAMA. 2010;304(18):2042-2047.
12/17/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : US Food and Drug Administration. FDA: Tainted products marketed as dietary supplements potentially dangerous. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Updated December 15, 2010. Accessed December 17, 2010.
3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : Te Morenga L, Mallard S, Mann J. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. BMJ . 2013;346:e7492.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael Woods
Last Updated: 3/18/2013