Part 1: Childhood Obesity: A Deadly Disease
Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) Obesity has long been referred to by medical professionals as an epidemic.
New reports claim the obesity rate in Idaho will reach epic proportions over the next two decades if big changes aren't made now.
In Part One of Childhood Obesity: A Deadly Disease, we examine how obesity is impacting children in our community.
12.5 million...that's the number of children and adolescents age two to nineteen–years old who are obese in America, roughly seventeen percent of the nation.
Here in Idaho that average is higher.
"25% of children in Idaho are obese, so it's a large problem in our communities and across our state," said Melissa Sleight, Registered Dietician, St. Luke’s Magic Valley.
The Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used to determine whether a child is overweight or obese.
It compares age, height and weight on a graph.
"Anything over the 85th percentile of BMI is considered overweight. And, anything over the 95th percentile is considered obese," said Sleight.
One of the factors contributing to the problem in our community is a lack of knowledge about what constitutes healthy foods.
"Food manufacturers that are marketing chicken nuggets or corn dogs or various other things to children and parents not knowing the difference is a big challenge here in this community," said Sleight.
Obesity rates have nearly tripled since the 1980s. Healthcare professionals are now seeing children developing serious diseases that you typically expect in adults.
"We see kids with adult type of diabetes, not the type kids used to get, but the type adults get. You see high blood pressure in kids or high cholesterol,” said Dr. Elizabeth Sugden, Family Physician, St. Luke’s Jerome.
Diseases that could mean deadly consequences down the road.
"A kid who starts with diabetes could have a heart attack when they're 40 or 50–years old. They could have kidney failure when they're young adults," said Dr. Sugden.
A serious disease with serious consequences.
By 2030 obesity–related health care costs in Idaho are expected to climb by 12 percent.
If BMI's were lowered just five percent, the state could save 7.3 percent in health care costs.
That equates to over $3 billion.