Weight control and diet

Highlights

Overweight Epidemic in Children

  • Teaching parents healthy life style skills can lead to a sustained weight reduction in moderately-obese children, even in ethnically diverse populations.
  • Although weight loss surgery is being considered more often in some adolescents, possible nutritional side effects, such as decreased bone density, must be carefully monitored.
  • According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 12 - 18% of children and adolescents (aged 2 - 19) are obese. The prevalence of obesity in America has risen dramatically over the past two decades and continues to increase.

Introduction

A stable weight depends on a balance between the energy you get from food and the energy you use. You use energy during the day in three ways:

  • Energy expended during rest (basal metabolism)
  • Energy used to break down food (thermogenesis)
  • Energy used during physical activity

Basal metabolism accounts for about two-thirds of spent energy. Your body generally uses this energy to keep your temperature steady and the muscles of your heart and intestine working. Thermogenesis accounts for about 10% of spent energy.

When a person consumes more calories than the energy they use, the body stores the extra calories in fat cells (lipocytes). Fat cells function as energy reservoirs. They grow or shrink depending on how people use energy. If people do not balance energy input and output by eating right and exercising, fat can build up. This can lead to weight gain.

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