Of all the chronic pediatric medical conditions some children must live with, obesity is arguably the one they and their parents are most concerned about. Asthma or diabetes rarely have the social stigma associated with obesity. Unlike the other two disorders, it is also often viewed as preventable with the proper diet and exercise.
More troubling to some, though, are the potential health problems that can result from being overweight. These kids are at greater risk of developing a heart disease or type 2 diabetes. However, recent findings from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing suggested that obesity may not be the issue. While researchers believe that children should be more active and eat a healthy diet, they felt that simply making those lifestyle changes can be beneficial even if no weight loss occurs.
During the researchers' two-week study, they noticed that the cardiovascular health of obese children soon matched that of their non-obese peers. Rather than obesity affecting children's health and wellness, the condition and problems like diabetes may instead be symptomatic of lifestyle.
"This work underscores the need to focus on changing lifestyle as opposed to focusing on body weight and weight loss," said Christian Roberts, Ph.D., the study's lead author.
Notably, more than one-third of children between 12 and 19 years old are considered obese, and it is one of the most common chronic pediatric medical conditions. Thanks to medical and health efforts for the past few decades, the rate of children who are overweight has stopped rising, as Time magazine recently reported. Still, it remains a significant concern for many parents. Encouraging kids to live a healthier life can be difficult, but parents who try to accommodate them by finding physical activities they enjoy and healthy food that they like eating can help prevent it from affecting their long-term health.