More than a third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and this number has increased over the years.
The reasons: too little activity and too many empty calories. Hot Cheetos and Takis are too often a normal daily sustenance reported by my patients. Kids simply don’t move as much. Smartphones and computer screens replace physical activity, contributing to sedentary lifestyles.
Why does it matter? Obesity in childhood makes it more likely that individuals will be obese as adults. Obesity has a long-term association with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and many other conditions.
Additionally, children endure the stigma associated with obesity, and this can lead to depression. Obese children also often experience bone and joint problems and sleep apnea.
Children should have their weight followed by their pediatricians. There are a number of resources available to families.
The old food pyramid that I learned as a child has crumbled and has been replaced by the plate model. Children and adolescents should have 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. A good resource for families is cdc.gov/healthyweight/children.
Moo Cho, M.D., of Kansas City is in his second year of residency. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and did his undergraduate work at UMKC. He grew up in Neosho, Mo.