The epidemic of childhood obesity is rapidly rising in America. The number of children who are now overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence of obesity in younger children has more than doubled. Overall, approximately 17% or 12.5 million of the children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 19 are already obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). This finding is very disturbing to many Americans and has caused many debates on who is responsible for this rising epidemic and how can we control it. .
Childhood obesity is measured by the body mass index (BMI). The BMI is calculated using a child's height and weight. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children. A child's weight status is determined using an age and sex specific percentile for BMI rather than the normal BMI categories which are used to determine an adult BMI. These are used because a child's body composition varies as they age and also varies between boys and girls. Overweight in a child is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. Obesity in a child is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. The causes of childhood obesity are multi-factorial. Obesity in children is caused by a lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, media and marketing campaigns, adverse family conditions, stress and the availability of technology.
Most Americans agree that childhood obesity is more prevalent today than ever before. If you look into the bedroom of an average American child you find video games, a computer, usually a television and possibly some other electronic gadgets. Today American children have access to just about anything they could ever want. They just ask and most parents will buy them whatever they want.