Over one-half of all Americans are overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk for developing many diseases. Women generally have more subcutaneous fat than men, but appear to suffer a greater cardiovascular risk from a given degree of fat than women.
Obesity is the net result of an excess of energy consumption over expenditure. Factors that must be considered as contributing to causation are: heredity, and altered metabolism of adipose tissue, the list goes on and on. Overeating is clearly a prominent contributor to obesity. Feeding behavior occurs in response to hunger and to appetite induced by the presence of food.
More children today are overweight or obese than ever before. “Overweight” meaning that the individual weighs more than is recommended for a given height. “Obesity” is an excess of body fat. In children obesity has been variously defined as 20% over the recommended weight for height, 85th percentile for body mass index, and 25% of weight as fat for boys and 30% weight as fat for girls.
One of the biggest reasons for all of these overweight and obesity problems is due to physical inactivity. More than half of U.S. citizens do not meet recommended levels of moderate physical activity, and one-fourth engage in no leisure time physical activity at all. Inactivity is more prevalent among those with lower income and education. A pattern of inactivity, also known as sedentism, begins early in life, making the promotion of physical activity among children imperative.
Physical activity has been defined as “bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure”. There is no debate about the value
of physical exertion. Regular physical activity has significant health benefits, and even modest increases in energy expenditure can have health enhancing effects.
The rising rates of obesity and overweight among kids and teens in the U.S. have become a concern for parents and society. Some educators and schools have even begun sending home information to raise family awareness about children’s weight status and the risks of obesity.
Parents who received a health report card were more likely to know whether their child was overweight and to plan medical help, dietary changes, and physical activities for their overweight kids. 91% of the parents who received health report cards requested yearly information about their child; and two-thirds of the parents who did not receive a health report card requested one for their child.