Obesity not only is a major issue concerning adults, it certainly affect the health of our young’s, especially when it comes to toddlers and kindergarteners. A nationwide study found that one in eight children in the U.S. was obese when they enter kindergarten, with the ratio increasing through the elementary school years. By eighth grade, 1 in 5 U.S. students was found obese and another 17 percent were overweight, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The sizable increase which took place before fifth standard gave the researchers the idea about the ages the American children were more vulnerable to develop obesity.
Researchers found that obesity has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents from the since the 1980s which has reached a plateau now. Being fat at early age is risk for later ages as it can cause diseases such as arthritis, stroke and type-2 diabetes and so on. To address the issue at a wider level, the “Let’s Move” campaign initiated by the First Lady Michelle Obama stressed the need for appropriate physical activity and healthy eating at an early age for children.
In another study released concerning obesity in young kindergarteners, it was found that five-year-old children that were overweight had four times more risk of getting obese during their elementary school time-period. Another fact that report stated was that about half of obese were already overweight when school started. Also, among overweight kindergarteners, only 13 percent were normal weight in eighth grade. It all points out that obesity develops mainly in children who are already overweight and contributes to an unhealthy, disease prone future community.
Solveig Cunningham at Emory University in Atlanta found in a study that was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that to prevent the problem of obesity in kindergarteners, efforts should be made to focus on the eating and physical activity of 5-year-old children. Especially those who were overweight as they were more prone to get obese during later childhood and towards adolescence. The researcher’s analyzed data from 21,260 kindergarteners enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study in 1998. More than 9,000 were followed through the eighth grade, providing a representative sample of the 3.8 million children the same age across the U.S. The researcher said that the cohort was of specific interest to them as they had grown up during the 1990s and 2000s, when the obesity had become a major of all health concern. There was no data on the weight issue of children until they started school or what happened after eight grade, making it difficult to track the main reason for obesity epidemic in the group, concluded the researchers.
Now since obesity is a major concern in kindergarteners, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated a child “overweight” if they were above the 85th percentile for weight and if they were above the 95th percentile they were marked as “obese.” Previous researches suggests obesity develops in the U.S. at a rate of 2.5 percent a year from adolescence to adulthood.
By Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain