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The American Obesity Association cites that pediatricians are reporting an alarming number of obesity-related diseases – type-2 diabetes, asthma and hypertension – diseases that once were considered adult medical problems.
By identifying the risk factors that lead to childhood obesity, medical school researchers hope to develop preventative measures that can help turn the tide to increased obesity among our youth.

Their goal is to provide a way to alter the child’s environment and reduce their chances of becoming overweight.

During a study that began tracking the parents and their 150 children following birth, attributes and behaviors were tracked and assessed until each child reached five years of age.  These factors were then used to predict whether a child participant would be overweight by the time they were nine and a half years old.  Included in the factors monitored were the parents’ weight, each infant’s weight, the parents’ eating behaviors, each child’s eating patterns, as well as the child’s activities, temperament and sleep time.  The parents’ concerns about their child’s weight were also noted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), there are two categories of overweight children.  The first group “at risk” is composed o those that have a BMI (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) above the 85th percentile.  And the second, more severe risk, are those with a BMI which is above the 95th percentile.  In the most recent study conducted, the CDCP determined that more than 30 percent of our children were considered at risk for obesity.  And the 15 percent of our severely overweight children has doubled during the past 20 years.

The researchers conducting the test of 150 children discovered that 25% were in the 85th percentile of BMI at 9.5 years, with nine percent in the 95th percentile.  It was also noted that 48% of children with overweight parents became overweight, compared with 13% of those with normal weight parents.  The higher risk factor associated with parental obesity is likely due to a combination of genetics and family environmental issues.  It was noted that a child’s temperament did alter the effect caused by the parent’s obesity.  46 percent of the children with a sensitive disposition and an overweight parent became overweight, as well, compared with 19 percent of the children without this disposition.  Even with normal-weight parents, temperament played a role.  It was discovered that parents with emotional children were more likely to feed them to reduce the frequency of tantrums, instead of using non-food solutions.

The American Obesity Association cites that pediatricians are reporting an alarming number of obesity-related diseases – type-2 diabetes, asthma and hypertension – diseases that once were considered adult medical problems.  Additional risk factors for overweight children have been identified – including low socio-economic status, higher birth weight and a general lack of physical activity.  However, few studies have been conducted to examine these factors in infancy and early childhood.

Two other factors of note were the parents’ concerns about their child’s thinness and the fact that overweight children, on average, got 30 fewer minutes of sleep than normal-weight children.  Although the factor of less sleep is not entirely understood, it may be due to less daily activity on the part of the overweight child.

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