In America today, right off of every highway exit and service area there are a variety of fast-food restaurants. Walk through any given grocery store and prepared foods that say “ready in minutes” or “fully cooked” are on just about every isle. Many younger adults today are growing up in what one might call a fast paced culture. Such radical changes of living including the easy access to these fast foods, lead to unhealthy eating habits and have taken a toll for the worst, obesity. The children, unfortunately, have become the target of obesity. The long term affects are commonly associated with most diseases that are affecting society today; these include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cancer, orthopedic and psychosocial problems. This new and ever changing lifestyle has brought a constant debate whether or not scientific, cultural and environmental factors have been a growing influence on child and teen obesity to the surface. Such factors do influence childhood and teenage obesity because of the hustle and bustle lifestyle Americans live today, the media’s heavy advertisement in ones daily life as well as American children’s lack of a basic nutritional diet, and exercise.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention distinguishes the difference between the terms being overweight and being obese. The term overweight refers to a person with a weight that is high compared to others including his same height and technically has nothing to do with a person’s amount of body fat (CDC). To illustrate, one person might weigh more because of their high individual muscle mass. Keeping this in mind, obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat. Both terms mean that a person's weight is greater than what's considered healthy for his or her height. In terms of a child's weight, the status is calculated using an age-and sex-specific percentile for BMI (Body Mass Index), as opposed to the BMI categories most commonly used for adults, simply because a child's body composition will vary as they grow as well as age and will also vary between boys and girls. Moreover, the weight of children 2 years and older is determined solely on the sex-specific percentile curves on the BMI-for-age in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, growth charts. Obesity is set at a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children, comparing with children and teens of the same age and sex. For example, the Center for Disease Control says that “a 3-year-old boy of average height who weighs more than 37 pounds would be considered obese” (CDC). From 1998 through 2003, the frequency of obesity increased from 13.05% to 15.21%, and the occurrence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75% to 2.22%.When being categorized as Extreme obese, a Childs BMI at or above 120% of the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex (CDC).
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