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  YourHealth > Kids  << Previous|Next >>
  Growth Charts help Prevent Child Obesity

   The nation's growing girth isn't just an adult problem -- obesity is affecting kids at an alarming rate. Now, new growth charts may help prevent kids at risk from becoming fat.

   The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the availability of a new pediatric growth chart that uses body mass index (BMI) to predict which kids are at risk for weight problems. "The BMI is an early warning signal that is helpful as early as age 2," HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala said in a statement. "This means that parents have an opportunity to change ther children's eating habits before a weight problem develops."

    According to the CDC, the number of overweight children and adolescents doubled during the last two decades. Currently, about 10 percent of all American children are overweight, while more than half of adults are overweight or obese. Establishing healthy eating and exercise habits is key during childhood, but changing lifestyle patterns becomes much harder as a child gets older.

    The growth chart is an updated version of what doctors have been using since 1977. The World Health Organization adopted these charts in 1978. The chart consists of a series of curves called percentiles. A BMI that falls in the 85th to 95th percentile means the child is at risk for becoming overweight. A child who falls above the 95th percentile is considered overweight.

    Numerous critics have blamed the nation's bulge on a fast-food culture, too much television watching and a lack of regular physical activity. Secretary Shalala and Surgeon General David Satcher, who has repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing childhood obesity rate, announced they will hold a workshop this fall to develop a national plan to attack America's obesity problem. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, even among children, and also can lead to heart disease, cancer and other health problems in adulthood.

    Dr. Shalala announced the charts at the National Nutrition Summit last year. The growth charts can be seen on the CDC's Web site.

 Read a PDF report on Child Obesity
"Public Health Crisis, Prevention as a Cure"

PDF report from the American Academy of Pediatrics
"Prevention of Pediatric Overweight and Obesity"

- Related articles on Child Obesity or Childhood Obesity

Related articles on Overweight Children

Reference Source
Author: Katrina Woznicki
OnHealth Network Co.

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