Childhood OBESITY

What is Childhood Obesity?
It's the term that is used for a child who has a BMI at or above the 95th percentile based on their gender, age, and weight


*Childhood obesity affects all races and backgrounds

*One thing that is becoming evident is that childhood obesity has been growing at a high rate here in the United States

*This problem has been traced back beginning in the 1960s

* Between 1963 and 2008 the rates of obesity among children between ages 2 to 19 have been steadily increasing

*From 1963 to 1970 4 percent of 6 to 11 year old children were obese. At the same time 4.6 percent of 12 to 19 year olds were obese

*In 1988 11.3 percent of 6 to 11 year olds were said to obese and 10.5 percent of 12 to 19 year olds were also obese

*By 2001 we see an increase of 16 percent of 6 to 11 year olds are now obese.In 2008 their was said to be 19.6 percent of 6 to 11 year olds were obese

* There is no specific cause as to why this problem arose but doctors have a few theories as to why

*Doctors say that the reason for this epidemic is a result of changes in our environment and changing eating habits throughout the years

*Since high-calorie good tasting foods have become available and heavily advertised, this is the food our children are now consuming

*Portion sizes have also increased and children and their families are now eating out more. Children are also drinking more sweetened beverages and drinking less water

* Technological innovations may also contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic.They reduce the daily physical activity. Kids are less likely to walk to school

*Most kids now a days have electronic devices and see no need to go out and play outside. They are doing less and less physical activity

*Before physical education was a requirement for all students, now that this has been changed kids are not getting as much physical education at school, this may contribute to the high childhood obesity problem

Psychological Effects of Childhood Obesity

*Childhood obesity not only affects a child's physical health but psychological health as well

*In a study done involving 1,520 children, from 9 to 10 years of age, most children's self-esteem scores were not significantly different from those of non obese children

*However, over the period of 4 years the obese Hispanic females and obese white females showed decreased levels of self-esteem compared with non obese children

*By 13 and 14 years of age lower levels of self-esteem were observed in obese boys compared with non obese boys.

*Decreasing levels of self-esteem in obese children was associated with large increases in sadness, loneliness, and nervousness.These children were also more likely to drink and smoke.


Interventions for prevention and management of childhood obesity are frequently conducted through schools, families, doctor's offices, communities, and policies. The desired outcome would be healthy eating and increased level of physical activity in place of sedentary behavior.

Outcomes differ based on intervention approach. The psychosocial factors can include knowledge, attitude and belief, and environmental changes.

Types of intervention:

  • school-based,*nutrition, diet, healthy eating *physical education *school curricula  *vending machines *policy
  • home-based, *nutrition, diet, healthy eating, *parenting styles/education *policy
  • primary care-based, *patient counseling *referrals to nutritionists *policy
  • child-care setting-based, *menu changes *physical activity *policy
  • community-based, *physical activity *farmer's markets *community gardens *cooking lessons *green space, parks, sidewalks *food store accessibility *access to healthy food choices *policy
  • consumer health informatics, *web-based interventions *cellphone based interventions *policy
  • multi-setting, *combination of any of the interventions above

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Sometimes the best treatment is PREVENTION
 Solutions that are proactive

Community Partnerships

  • Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) partners with more than 200 community groups, including United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM)
  • They work to increase healthy eating habits and physical activity for city children

The Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project

  • There are collaborations between community centers to serve families in low-income neighborhoods, so that they have access to healthy foods and activities

Department of School Nutrition

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides grant funds for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The purpose is to expand and increase the variety and amount of fruits and vegetables that children consume. This program is available in public and private schools.
  • School Nutrition Programs include breakfast, lunch, dinner, head start meals, after school snacks, and summer meals.
  • Interactive websites, such as Discover MyPlate, on the site, is inquiry-based nutrition education that provides play themed activities which emphasize healthy eating and physical activity for all age levels.

For this project, interviews were conducted with several families that have one or more obese children. A reoccurring thought from these families was that the best treatment for childhood obesity is entire family lifestyle change. In order for children to change their ways, the parents must first set a positive example with healthy eating and active lifestyles being the key. For one family, replacing pizza and video games with casseroles and biking was the beginning to helping their children lead better lives. Below are some of the lifestyle changes:

  • Grocery shopping, buying healthier foods
  • Limitting fast food, eating out at restaurants, and ordering delivery
  • Exercising as a family, going for walks, biking, going to the park, etc.
  • Making an effort to replace sofa time, t.v. and video games, with more active choices

Surveys given to gender, age, and ethnically diverse groups of individuals who have children, indicated that 8 out of 10 found convenience and time to be the greatest influence in food choice and activities for children.

Consequently, this is also the greatest barrier in healthy eating and lifestyle.

School, Family, and Community can all create proactive solutions to combat childhood obesity .


  • 25% of children in the United States are overweight and 11% are obese
  • 70% of these obese adolescents grow up to become obese adults
  • Prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing since 1971 in developed countries
  • In both developed and developing countries there are proportionately more girls overweight than boys in adolescent years

So we may ask... What classifies adolescents as being overweight?

  • Children between the ages of 5 and 18 are classified as fat if their body fat percentage is at least between 25% and 35%
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defined overweight as at or above the 95th percentile of BMI for age and children are "at risk for overweight" if they are between 85th and 95th percentile of BMI


  • Obesity is a chronic disorder that has multiple causes (diet, physical activity, genetics, and cultural factors)
  • Psychological disorders such as depression are occurring more frequently in obese children; meaning being overweight or obese is taking a toll on the health physically and psychologically
  • Adolescents who are overweight are more likely to have cardiovascular and/or digestive diseases in their later adult life than those who are not overweight
  • Overall caloric dietary intake and physical activity need to be taken into consideration for both prevention and treatment


MCW News Center. Curbing obesity in city children. 2015. Retrieved from:

Pediatric Weight Management (PWM) Guideline (2007). PWM: Executive Summary of recommendations (2007). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015. Retrieved from:

Milwaukee Public Schools. Department of School Nutrition. 2015. Retrieved from:

Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education. United States Department of Agriculture. 2014. Retrieved from:

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Wisconsin Department of Public Nutrition. 2015.   Retrieved from:

Diseases and Conditions - Childhood Obesity. Mayo Clinic. 2015. Retrieved from:

What Works, Obesity Prevention and Control. Evidence based interventions for Your Community. 2013. Retrieved from:

Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: A Comparative Effectiveness Review and Meta-Analysis. Effective Health Care Programs. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2011. Retrieved from:

Clinical Review. Evidence Based Pediatrics, Evidence Based Management of Childhood Obesity. BMJ Volume 323. 20 October 2001. Retrieved from://

Preventing Childhood Obesity, Examining the Setting. EUFIC. 2015. Retrieved from:

Dehghan, M., Akhtar-Danesh, N., & Merchant, A. T. (2005). Childhood obesity,
prevalence and prevention. Nutrition journal, 4(24).

History and Psychological Sources

Marks , S., (2013).The history of childhood obesity in America. Retrieved from:

National institute of health.(2010). Background of obesity. Retrieved from:

Strauss, R.,(2000).Childhood obesity and self esteem. Pediatrics. (105).1.ppe15

Wiley,S., (2015). Obesity History in America. Retrieved from:

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