The weight to height ratio of obese children is 4 to 6 (normal: 2 to 1). This is not unusual. Children who are overweight can still be healthy despite some loss because even though they are heavier than some of the other age groups, they are still able to exercise and grow physically at a greater rate than the average 5 year old.
What about the rest of us? Weight regain after a weight loss program cannot be predicted. Even small weight regain in overweight or obese children may lead to permanent problems in the form of obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, lower respiratory problems, or other physical ailments, leading up to death in later life.
Obesity in Childhood: Risk Factors, Interventions, and Treatment
All children are at risk for obesity and all may develop it in some form. However, there are many risk factors that are common to all children. Here are some examples:
Family income affects the development of weight and growth problems, and this affects the risk for both the child and the adults in their family. The children of lower-income families tend to be overweight, and this may cause increased risk because of their lower weight and the difficulty in gaining weight due to lower caloric intake and an increase in food intake (see The Importance of Weight Gain for Children). Research indicates that low income children develop overweight, obesity, or dyslipidemia during early childhood. These children are also at increased risk of metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure which increase the risk for later weight gain.
All children have the same risk that they will grow into obesity. However, some races and cultures may have a higher risk. Obesity rates in Latino and Black Americans are higher than in Whites.
The family plays a large role in the development of all children. If the parents do not take appropriate precautions when they are breastfeeding or if the diet is not appropriate, there is a much greater possibility of this happening to their children. Even though many parents are aware of their own and their child’s weight gain, few are aware of the increased weight gain that their children could develop as a result of their own and their child’s obesity. If the parents, pediatricians, or other relevant experts in the medical field are not taking care of the family’s concerns about weight gain in the child (as is often the case), most weight gain in the child should be avoided.
These problems include