Childhood obesity is a severe issue in the United States. Due to this problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for handling childhood obesity for the first time in the first time in 15 years, highlighting the need for immediate action, including medication and surgery.
In 2017-2019, the CDC reported that almost 20 percent of children were obese. In this case, obesity is defined as having a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC sex-specific BMI for age growth charts.
Children gained weight faster during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically those who were already overweight. Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates in the United States have tripled. Today, one in three children is obese or overweight. Removing extracurricular sports, social activities, and remote learning all contributed to inactive lifestyles during the pandemic. Because of this collapse, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that in-person education should resume by the summer of 2020. However, they weren’t as casual with their athletic and social activities recommendations. For some, normal activities didn’t start again until late 2021, and they still haven’t resumed for others.
The pandemic and increased use of electronics contributed to increasing obesity rates in children, but they aren’t the only cause. The term “fat-shaming” was created over the last decade, leading to some physicians being too scared to have honest conversations with patients about their weight. Doctors have been advised to stop using words like “overweight” and “obese” and replace them with phrases like “above a healthy weight” to try not to make patients feel uncomfortable about excess weight.
The AAP also emphasized the importance of using non-stigmatizing and sensitive language when talking about weight, focusing more on the stigma of being overweight instead of the medical urgency of obesity. Social and mainstream media promote the body positivity and self-love trend, including being overweight. Social media influencers and other famous people have taken over pop culture, with millions of followers attempting to create a platform to promote plus-sized bodies.
Body positivity is essential for one’s mental health, but the line has been blurred concerning the known detrimental effects of being overweight. The message shouldn’t be thin versus fat. Instead, the focus should be on decreasing the risk of preventable conditions associated with obesity, like diabetes, joint problems, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity in the U.S. is a severe public health issue that can’t be fixed overnight.
It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to foster a healthier family environment to the child’s long-term advantage since overweight children are more likely to turn into overweight adults. Ending the normalization of obesity will prevent the vast number of chronic illnesses that are sure to follow. It’s essential to acknowledge that excess body fat is dangerous and leads to numerous chronic diseases.
Body positivity should be promoted, but people should receive accurate information about the risks associated with being overweight. Being overweight leads to numerous health problems. Parents of overweight children should do their best to ensure that their children are active and not sedentary.