Why Are so Many Toddlers Obese?
More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Many U.S. toddlers are also obese and are even showing signs of diabetes and other diseases associated with obesity, according to researchers.
Moreover, when obese children were sent to specialists they still did not achieve healthier weights.
Researchers examined the medical records of 385 children, most of whom were already obese, defined as being in the 85th percentile for weight. The children were seen by endocrinologists, or hormone specialists, between 1984 and 2002.
Although the parents were educated on proper diet and exercise for their children as well as advised to meet with a dietician, after two years the children weighed, on average, even more than before.
According to researchers, it is clear that referral to pediatric endocrinologists and dieticians is not effective in treating childhood obesity. Instead, they suggest a weight-loss program that includes the children, parents and the school system.
The children in the study, some as young as 4 years old, also had high insulin levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, and 13 percent of 147 children tested had abnormal liver function tests, according to researchers. Such tests indicate a common condition with obesity known as fatty liver, which can lead to cirrhosis.
People who are obese or overweight have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Seattle May 4, 2003