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Schmidt – Obesity: A weighty issue for children

Schmidt, W Charles. “Obesity: A weighty issue for children.” Environmental Health Perspectives vol 111. (October 2003): A700-A707.

Keywords: Childhood obesity, environment, caloric intake, fast food

In order to be defined as overweight or obese, someone must be in the 85th and 95th percentile for body mass index for age and sex. In our society today, 15% of all children who are 6-18 years old are obese. Obesity is dangerous for children. It can lead to health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea. Childhood obesity can potentially lead to fatal health problems. Obese children are much more likely to become obese adults. Obesity rates have increased along with an increase of suburban sprawl, super-sized fast food portions, and video games.  The environment may be at fault for the rising problem of childhood obesity. Much of the landscape has been filled with strip malls and fast-food restaurants. Walking and bicycling trips made by children have declined by one-half since 1969.


The way that a community is designed relates to physical activity, which can be linked to childhood obesity. A child who lives in a neighborhood without any swimming pools or recreational parks will do less physical activity. A child’s caloric intake can also be linked to childhood obesity. Fast food on the market today is always available and it contains energy-dense foods with low fiber content.


Today, obesity is catching up with smoking as the leading cause of illness and death. Small changes such as eating less and walking more can improve the health of a child. Our priorities aren’t in the right place. We are focusing on making obese people more fit, but we should be focusing on stopping weight gain.

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