Childhood Obesity Could Change Life Expectancy

Childhood Obesity Could Change Life Expectancy

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Shelley Osterloh ReportingExperts estimate that 10 to 15 percent of children are overweight or at risk for being overweight. Kids who are overweight may face social and self esteem problems, but it's the health implications doctors are most worried about. A child who is severely overweight is at risk for some long-term health problems.

Karen A. Ortiz, M.D., University Medical Center: “And they already estimate that at the rate we are going, our children will more likely not have the life expectancy that we have because of the complications of obesity.”

While Utah kids are near the national norms, Dr. Karen Ortiz of the University Medical Center says there are certain ethnic populations that have higher rates of obesity.

Karen A. Ortiz, M.D.: “And those tend to be Hispanic populations, African American populations, Native American populations are the three highest.”

Children aren't put on diets as a regular practice. But parents do have to take any warning signs seriously.

Karen A. Ortiz, M.D.: “Adolescent overweight is a predictor of adult obesity. Want to say somewhere around 30% of adolescents will be obese adults. The other large predictor is if you have an obese parent, the child, especially two obese parents, the child is more likely to be obese.”

Dr. Ortiz is convinced that scare tactics don't work with kids. She says positive approaches are much more successful.

Karen A. Ortiz, M.D.: “Especially approaching it from, what does it get you? Does it increase your energy? Gets you better self-esteem, it can improve the looks of your body without going, harping on the negative side – you’re overweight, you’re fat.”

As with adults, the key for overcoming obesity for children is exercise and diet. Most children shouldn't really lose weight, but by improving diet and increasing activity, they grow into a healthier body.

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