Childhood Obesity Statistics: Is Your Child 7-11 Years Old?

Childhood obesity statistics remain a concern even at the Presidential level. We know the answers, but we have to be willing to make the needed changes to our lives.

I have made it very clear where I stand on the childhood obesity epidemic.  The vast majority of the fault lies not with the schools, not with the TV advertisers and not even with McDonald’s.  Rather, it lies squarely in the laps of the parents.  Let me relay a very sad story to illustrate the point.

My son, Keegan, is a 7 year old first grader.  A few weeks ago, before I packed his lunch for the next day, we had an updated discussion about what I was putting into his lunch.  We do this from time to time to make sure he’s eating enough and that he likes what I’m giving him.  I asked him if he would eat some purple cauliflower if I put a few small pieces in his lunch.  He noted concern that the other kids would make fun of him because he would be the only kid at the table eating cauliflower.  With some negotiations he agreed to eat the cauliflower I put in his lunch (I pointed out that none of the other kids would have a square of dark chocolate in his or her lunch either, so he conceded my win).

A few days later I asked him if he ate the cauliflower.  He said that he did, but he held it under the table so the other kids wouldn’t see him eating it.  My heart broke.  The idea that he should be ashamed to eat cauliflower in front of his friends both hurt me and angered me.  What does this say about our collective child health rearing skills that a solitary child eating cauliflower should feel the need to eat this food out of sight?  Shouldn’t the kids eating Doritos for lunch be the ones hiding in the corner in shame because, at some level, that child’s parents are completely oblivious about how much these foods destroy the future health of that child?

Do you think I’m being overly dramatic?  If so, it’s because you haven’t yet read this particular article.

There has always been concern with rapid weight gain in a child leading to the rise in childhood obesity statistics.  This concern extends to the weight gain in the womb due to gestational diabetes, as an infant when the child is on formula instead of breastmilk, as a toddler as they explore new foods or beyond.  In this study, researchers looked broke weight gain into age categories to determine at what ages the rapid growth was the most associated with future health challenges (in this case, high blood pressure).

The age groups were broken down as follows: 3 to 9 months, 9 to 36 months, 3 to 7 years, and 7 to 11 years.  The children’s blood pressure at age 11 was then determined.  Here’s what they found:

  1. Faster childhood linear growth between 7 and 11 years of age (getting taller) in girls led to a 27% higher risk of higher blood pressures.
  2. In boys, this risk was over double the risk – 211%.
  3. At age 11, both boys and girls with the highest BMI had 272% higher risk of having higher blood pressure (Tweet this).

Based on this study, the time bomb of health is ticking at my son’s school.  The fact that Keegan’s friends would make fun of him for eating cauliflower (I have heard him say the same of hummus) speaks volumes as to the foods these kids are exposed to at home.

In your child’s lunchroom, would your child be in Keegan’s shoes, or would your child sneer at the idea of eating foods like cauliflower or hummus?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.