The obesity epidemic is a growing problem afflicting millions of Americans of all ages, and now there is a new category that draws major concern– ‘severely obese’ children and teens.
According to the American Heart Association, about 5 percent of U.S. children and teens are 'severely obese' — a newly defined class of risk.
This category includes “children over age 2 as severely obese if they either have a body mass index (BMI) that’s at least 20 percent higher than the 95th percentile for their gender and age, or a BMI score of 35 or higher. A child in the 95th percentile weighs more than 95 percent of other children of the same gender and age."
Severe obesity also comes with a host of health problems including higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues at younger ages, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and early signs of atherosclerosis– the disease process that clogs arteries.
The bad news is treatment options for children with this level of obesity are limited, as most standard approaches to weight loss are insufficient for them, but there are many organizations and initiatives that are educating parents and families on how to make healthier choices when it comes to the health of the entire family.