Alarming statistics about childhood obesity

I was overweight as a child. Actually, let me clarify: I was fat.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a painful part of my past that I’ll revisit as many times as it takes. Because if I can prevent just one more child from having to suffer the way I did–not only as a child, but with the scars that still remain–then it’s worth it.

That’s one of the reasons I talk so much about childhood obesity. And why it saddens me so much to see the alarming statistics continue to roll in year after year.

When I wrote my first book, Feed Your Kids Well, I saw the writing on the wall already. But despite that book’s success, very few people were willing to listen.

In fact, I even met with resistance from Meredith Vieira when she interviewed me about the book for The View. I shared the same message I always do. Namely, that we are in control of what our children eat for the most part, not them. And if you start healthy eating habits early, they are much more likely to stick.

But Meredith thought that it would be just impossible to get children to eat in a healthy manner. And tragically, her opinion is a popular one.

I have to admit I’m still a little sore over her on-camera remarks. But at the end of the day, this is just one example of the ignorance that can be so rampant in the mainstream media. And unfortunately, that’s where most people get their information.

When it comes to news about this particular topic, needless to say, you’re better off hearing it from me. Otherwise, you might not hear it at all.

And the latest news comes from a scientific statement courtesy of the American Heart Association. It states that, while overall childhood obesity rates have begun to level off, rates of severe obesity among kids in this country have risen to roughly five percent.

These severely obese children and teens are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and premature heart disease. (Not to mention all sorts of other illnesses the longer that weight stays on.) So much so that the powers-that-be are calling for the creation of a risk category, to drive the serious dangers of “severe obesity” home to pediatricians.

Current definitions classify “severe” obesity as a BMI that’s at least 20 percent higher than the 95th percentile for any child over the age of two. In terms of absolute score, it would amount to a BMI of 35 or higher.

Can you even imagine a child with a BMI greater than 35? It’s quite sad, really.

But here’s where I take issue with this statement. These scientists feel that standard approaches to weight loss aren’t going to work in these cases. So they’re urging the use of surgery and drugs.

I don’t know about you, but bariatric surgery in grade school? It sounds like child abuse to me. (But then again, so does overfeeding your child in the first place.)

What about good old diet and exercise?

I know just the program. One that provides plenty of veggies, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats. In other words, all the nutrients that a developing child needs to lose weight healthfully–in the form of fresh, real food.

It’s proven effective, too. After all…it worked for me.

“Severe Obesity in Children and Adolescents: Identification, Associated Health Risks, and Treatment Approaches: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” Circulation. 2013 Oct 8;128(15):1689-1712.