Nearly two-thirds of this U.S. group are overweight. In fact, 17 percent are obese, with the rate tripling from 1971 to 2011.
Worst of all, these folks are being exposed to a whole host of health issues that were previously quite rare in this group. Who am I talking about? Children, of course, which is why it’s so important to learn how to lose weight for kids.
Today, one in five youths aged 6–19 are obese. And while there are lots of public health suggestions floating around about how to best deal with this issue — which affects children not only physically but also emotionally — there’s one standing above the pack: getting parents involved and learning how to lose weight for kids. What’s the best way to do that? Focusing on parents, not children, during childhood obesity treatment.
It might sound counterintuitive. After all, if children are the ones with the health problem, doesn’t it make sense to have them attend treatment meetings? But a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics found that there was no difference in weight loss outcomes when only parents attended the treatment versus parents and children together. Having the parents truly is the best way in the journey of how to lose weight for kids.
The Epidemic of Overweight Children
Experts point to many reasons leading to a rise in childhood obesity, like environmental factors, lifestyle preferences and cultural environments. And though obesity is generally thought to be the result of too many calories and fat, researchers are now pointing to the high amount of sugar in soda and juices, larger portion sizes, and a decrease in physical activity as contributing factors to obesity.
How is obesity in children measured anyway? Currently, body mass index, or BMI chart, is used to decide if a child is overweight or obese. Children with BMIs at or higher than the 85th percentile but below the 95th percentile are considered overweight; BMIs at or above the 95th percentile are considered obese.
Any weight ranging from the 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile is considered a normal or healthy weight. BMIs are stacked against youth of the same age and sex, since a child’s body composition changes quite a bit as he or she ages.
While using BMI might have some accuracy issues, the number of children who aren’t at a healthy weight is concerning. What’s especially interesting about overweight and obese children is that it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Though there have always been children who weigh more than their peers, it’s only in the last four decades or so that rates have skyrocketed in young people.
Between 1976 and 1980, for example, 5 percent of preschool children ages 2–5 were obese. By 2007–2008, that number of obese children totaled 10.4 percent. And from 1976–1980, about 6.5 percent of children aged 6-11 were obese. In 2007–2008 however, that number shot up to 19.6 percent.
The ramifications of children being overweight and obese aren’t just high numbers on the scale, of course. Both conditions bring about serious health consequences. These children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, which we know is a risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases. In fact, type 2 diabetes, which used to be virtually unheard of in children, is now being diagnosed at alarming rates.
Children who are obese also are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol, breathing problems like asthma, joint problems, fatty liver disease, and heartburn.
And then, of course, there are the effects that transcend the physical. Depression and a feeling of low quality of life are more common in young people who are obese. And children who are obese are more likely to be bullied more than their average-weight peers, no matter how good their social skills are.
How to Lose Weight for Kids: Parents Are the Key
It’s evident that helping children who are overweight and obese is a healthy decision, and the new study sheds some light on an effective way to do that. The question researchers wanted to answer was whether there was a difference in how successful children were losing weight when they attended family-based weight loss treatment (FBT) versus having just parent-based treatment, or PBT.