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Childhood obesity

What is childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is defined as having to much body fat. Adults are called overweight when their Body Mass Index (BMI: weight/ length˛) is between 25 and 30. Obesity is diagnosed when BMI is over 30. Adults have a healthy weight when their BMI is between 20 and 25. In children, other cut off values are used: they differ by gender and age. In the table below the cut off points for children are listed.


Age
Overweight
Obesitas
 
BMI girls
BMI boys
BMI girls
BMI boys
2
18,02
18,41
19,81
20,09
3
17,56
17,89
19,36
19,57
4
17,28
17,55
19,15
19,29
5
17,15
17,42
19,17
19,30
6
17,34
17,55
19,65
19,78
7
17,75
17,92
20,51
20,63
8
18,35
18,44
21,57
21,60
9
19,07
19,10
22,81
22,77
10
19,86
19,84
24,11
20,00
11
20,74
20,55
25,42
25,10
12
21,68
21,22
26,67
26,02


What is the prevalence of childhood obesity?

In the Netherlands, 13% of all children from 5 to 16 years old is overweight. 7% of them are obese. That means that 1 out of eight Dutch children has weight problems. The prevalence of overweight in children has increased 50% in the last 25 years. It is expected that these numbers will increase even more in the future.

What are the consequences of childhood obesity?

The consequences of childhood obesity can be both physical (orthopedic complaints, high level of cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, risk of diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity in adulthood, etc) and psychological (low self-esteem, negative self-image, depressive symptoms, stigmatization, discrimination, learning difficulties, etc).

What causes childhood obesity?

Obesity can be caused by a variety of factors, but straightforward obesity arises from a (long-lasting) imbalance between energy intake and energy consumption.

What can be done about childhood obesity?

It is crucial to treat obesity at a young age as there is no effective treatment for obese adults at this moment. In addition, children’s habits are not as rooted, which makes them more susceptible to change. Finally, children do not need to lose absolute weight to become slimmer. By growing and keeping weight constant at the same time, the overweight will decrease.