Does it surprise anybody?  Not I…

Severe Childhood Obesity is a new classification which is described as being a weight that is greater than the 99th percentile for gender and age.  The researchers out of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are the first to use this classification of obesity in children.  The measure isn’t perfect, children have a high variance in height and growth spurts come at different ages having far different effects on height and weight.  But it is a stable measure across time and very indicative of how our children are measuring up to their peers.

From the years 1976-1980 the rate of severe obesity was 0.8%, climbing to 3.8% in the years 1999-2004.  Another worrying data point from the study is that a third of children that were severely obese have metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is a measure of high blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels which grouped together are risk factors for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

The researchers said, “these findings demonstrate the significant health risks facing this morbidly obese group…this places demands on health care and community services, especially because the highest rates are among children who are frequently underserved by the health care system.”

At a time when the nation is caught up in a health care debate it is evident that in order to decrease our costs in the future we have to target our children and teach them healthy eating.  This has to be a concerted effort at home and in schools (we send our kids to school to learn and here’s what they learn) to eat healthier, exercise and generally care more about what we put in our bodies.

ResearchBlogging.orgSkelton, J., Cook, S., Auinger, P., Klein, J., & Barlow, S. (2009). Prevalence and Trends of Severe Obesity Among US Children and Adolescents Academic Pediatrics DOI: 10.1016/j.acap.2009.04.005