A new survey suggests that kids who are obese at 11-years old stay that way through age 16 and after.
Researchers tracked close to 4,000 children in three US metro areas for 5 years and discovered that 83% of obese 10th graders were also obese in the 5th grade. A mere 12% were able to “thin out” and “lose their baby weight” as the old wives tail goes, and transitioned to normal weight.
“Parents sometimes think that it’s just baby fat and their kids will outgrow it, but we found a lot more constancy [of extra weight over time] than we anticipated,” study author Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital said of the findings published in the November 10th edition of journal Pediatrics.
“Certainly, once you’ve gained weight and become obese or overweight, it’s harder to change the habits influencing that,” he added. “But just because kids are gaining weight as they get older doesn’t mean they can’t lose weight — they definitely can.”
The research also suggest that kids of parents who are also overweight or from families with less education are also less likely to lose weight and become normal weight over time.
It also implied that living around, going to school with and being in communities with a good number of substantially overweight people contributes to a social normalization of obesity.
Compared to kids from 40 years ago who didn’t see that many overweight peers and adults, today’s children do and are not so ostracized if they are packing a few extra pounds.
Also, a more sedentary and super-convenient society fed on a steady diet of high-fat, heavy carb processed foods contribute.
“People are less likely to walk places or go to a park,” Schuster said. “There’s also a lot of fast, convenient, high-processed food available that’s higher in calories and less nutritious. A lot of what we’re trying to encourage is to eat a healthier diet and engage in more physical activity — and that’s true whether a child is obese or not.”
Finally, the data also showed that children who were heavy in the 5th grade who spent more time with screens, TV and video games, were less likely to lose the weight than kids who had limited screen time.
The solution seems to be for parents to actively encourage their teens to get involved in organized sports, go out more and regularly and watch their diets so that they do not overindulge in bad foods.