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Obesity A community forum

The Scope of the Problem

Obesity rates among adolescents have tripled in the past 30 years.1

Among preadolescents the rates of obesity have more than quadrupled during the same time period. More than 23 million children ages six to 11 are obese.1

Children suffer the effects of obesity in a variety of ways.

Obese children are at increased risk for diseases previously identified only in adult populations.1 It is also reported that children who are obese are more likely to face emotional challenges such as being bullied,2 and researchers have determined a significant statistical association between adolescent obesity and depression.3

The obesity epidemic disproportionally affects children in some communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that 38 percent of Mexican-American children and 34.9 percent of black children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with 30.7 percent of white children in the same age range.

Dr. Gary Gottlieb, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare said at the Words Can Work/Partners HealthCare forum, “We are in danger of raising the first generation of American children who will die younger than the previous generation.”

Fourteen-year-old Chloe is featured in the DVD Words Can Work: Kids and Healthy Lifestyles. She started to eat more healthfully when she learned from her doctor that her Body Mass Index had reached an unhealthy range.

Chloe told the Words Can Work forum audience, “It makes it easier for me because my whole family is healthy. Like when my dad comes home he says, 'Chloe I’m going to cut you an orange.' And I like that because they’re good and while we eat it, my dad and I talk about how school went that day. There’s some bonding time.”

All children deserve access to healthy food choices and safe places to play and be active.

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1. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity

2. Weight Status as a Predictor of Being Bullied in Third Through Sixth Grades, Julie C. Lumeng, Patrick Forrest, Danielle P. Appugliese, Niko Kaciroti, Robert F. Corwyn, and Robert H. Bradley, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-0774, Pediatrics 2010; 125; e1301; originally published online May 3, 2010

3. Obesity, Shame, and Depression in School-Aged Children: A Population-Based Study, Rickard L. Sjöberg, Kent W. Nilsson and Jerzy Leppert, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2005-0170, Pediatrics 2005; 116; e389

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