Childhood Obesity and Stroke, A Rising Health Crisis

Patient Expert

Alex Benton began gaining weight when she was seven years old. She was encouraged to partake in a more appropriate and healthful diet and did lose some weight that was gained back. By the age of fourteen,   Alex weighed three hundred and twenty pounds.

Both Alex and her older sister have had high cholesterol since they were eight years old, and Alex has needed cholesterol medication since she was twelve. By the time she was fourteen years old, doctors were warning Alex about the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Childhood Obesity Rates are Staggering

A British newspaper reported that more than 5,500 children under the age of sixteen had been treated for or diagnosed with obesity at hospitals in a five year period. Of that number, forty were babies under the age of one-year-old.
It was noted that these numbers reflect only the extreme cases, and public health experts believe that the accurate number for obese children and babies is even higher. Two of the more extreme cases were instance of stroke in a six-year-old child and an eight-year-old child.

The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recorded an alarming increase in childhood obesity in the last three decades. Statistics from 1976 to 1980 showed that 6.5% of children ages six to eleven were obese. The percentage had increased to 17% between 2003 and 2006.

Premature Illnesses As a Result of Childhood Obesity

Obesity among children is increasing risk factors for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Doctors are reporting seeing changes in heart and artery structures in children that normally do not occur until far into adulthood. The result of all this is a higher risk for heart disease and stroke among children.

High cholesterol among children and teenagers has gotten so bad that many doctors are prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications for children.

In addition, the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference of 2011, and among the research findings that were reported, is that strokes are occurring with greater frequency for people who are under thirty-five years old. Furthermore, a notable increase for stroke was observed in children ages five to fourteen.

Fighting Childhood Obesity and Stroke

Children today spend low to modest periods of time outdoors moving their bodies and exercising. One of the starting points would be to simply have children engage in more physical activity.

Another bit of help was discovered in a study where parents selected hypothetical meals from a fast food menu where the calories were posted. The number of calories in the meals that were selected was reduced by 102, lending support to a national menu labeling where parents have access to key information that can lead to better food choices.

There are many free calorie counters on the Internet  that allow anyone to find out how many calories are in the meals they prepare at home. Online and mobile games that teach kids healthy eating habits also are gaining in popularity.

Most important, parents must monitor their children to ensure they are consuming the best possible diet and parents should also set an example for wise food choices, exercise, and overall healthy living.

What to read next: Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy Using Games** References:** -  - accessed 8/21/12
The Huffington Post -  - accessed 8/21/12
The Telegraph -  - accessed 8/21/12
WebMD -  - accessed 8/21/12

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