In 1999, 13% of children aged 6 to 11 years and 14% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years in the United States were overweight. This prevalence has nearly tripled for adolescents in the past 2 decades.
Risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, occur with increased frequency in overweight children and adolescents compared to children with a healthy weight.
Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes.
Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese. Overweight or obese adults are at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.
The most immediate consequence of overweight as perceived by the children themselves is social discrimination. This is associated with poor self-esteem and depression.
Source: The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, Overweight Children & Adolescents,
How do I know if my child is overweight?
Your doctor will use a chart to find out if your child might be overweight. Your child is overweight if he or she is heavier than 85 percent of other children who are the same age and height. If your child has bigger bones, he or she may weigh more because of that, not because of too much fat.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians, http://www.aafp.org