Obesity in Children in the United States

The increasing rates of childhood obesity are a worrying trend, and the issue has been in the public domain over the last decades since it is a public health problem. Besides calls for action by health practitioners, the entry of politicians in the debate on childhood obesity has necessitated actions with regards to programs, policies and research on the link between childhood obesity and the overall health situation of the American population. Similar to adulthood obesity, there is increased health risks associated with childhood obesity. In addition, childhood obesity increases the likelihood of adult obesity.  In any case the cost implications of obese related diseases are enormous and prevention of childhood obesity ought to be a top priority among health professionals. For there to be effective intervention strategies, there is a need to measure obesity using consistent definition and criteria. Even though obesity levels decreased between the years 2003 to 2010, approximately 2.5 million American children and adolescents were obese (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013)

complications brought about by childhood obesity are the alteration of the development, this mainly are the changes in the onset of menarche and thelarche, the development of boys during puberty and undesirable development of the bone structure for both boys and girls. The association between skeletal development and adipose tissue is also associated with child obesity, whereby androgens may be altered to mimic estrogen. Another mechanism through which obesity affects the timing of puberty is through signaling brought about by leptin and insulin which then affects the reproductive mechanism.  The occurrence of orthopedic discomforts including impaired mobility, fractures and other complications affecting the musculo skeletal system affect obese children more than others (Han et al., 2010).

There are also other viable methods that are used to distinguish between obesity and normal weight, but all methods measure the percentage of body fat.  These other approaches include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), underwater weighing (densitometry) and multi frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis (Dehghan et al ., 2005).  On the other hand, clinical approaches mostly use BMI or other techniques including, skin thickness and waist circumference.  Even though, research methods may be more accurate than these techniques the approaches are nonetheless effective in recognizing risk. BMI may be widely used among adults, but for children the approach may be ineffective, as it does not identify fat free mass or fat.  In addition, BMI may also overestimate the obesity levels of more muscular children (Dehghan et al,. 2005).