The media covers a lot of healthcare topics, and one of the most popular is obesity. Obesity is now becoming a regular term and is related to many other health problems. In terms of obesity, though, we do not often think of children. But, according to the latest research, childhood obesity has become an epidemic and cause for great concern. Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years and more children are at risk for problems that are typically seen in adults including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood obesity can be defined as having a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. It is best to see your medical professional or pediatrician to calculate a child’s BMI and to determine if a child is obese. (Children are referenced as being 2 and older.)
Even though weight management is a main concern with childhood obesity, physical therapy can play a role in treating secondary conditions. Excess weight on the body causes increased pressure on the joints which can lead to joint pain and problems, as well as increased stress on ligaments or other joint supporting structures. In addition, with excess weight, a child tends to have strength deficits and their muscles do not support their body as they are typically designed to do.
Goals for overweight and obese children should be a weight management program (as prescribed by a medical professional) including increased cardiovascular exercise, increased physical activity, and decreased sedentary time – limiting time spent in front of a computer or television. Because childhood obesity often leads to adult obesity, it is important to try to change lifestyle; meaning it is important to include the family, and for adults to lead by example and participate with children in activity and healthy habits.
Physical Therapy treats children to help with joint pain, joint weakness, and muscle strengthening. Home programs are prescribed on a specific – individualized basis. If you have any questions in regards to this article or would like more information, please call Hannibal Regional Hospital - Bowling Green Physical Therapy