chicago band child obesityA new study found that American children need to decrease their daily caloric intake by an average of 64 calories, in order to meet the goal set by the federal government for reducing obesity rates by 2020. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set the goal in a 2010 report, aiming to reduce the national childhood obesity rate to 14.6 percent, down from 17 percent. The 64-calorie difference is an average and some children will need further reduction, while others may not need to reduce calorie intake, at all. However, without this overall reduction—either through increased activity or reduced consumption–the study authors suggest that nearly 21 percent of US youth will be obese in 2020.

Another recent study found that childhood obesity rates are influenced by where a child lives, including factors such as the neighborhood’s walkability, access to higher quality parks, and proximity and availability of healthy food options. Researchers saw that in favorable neighborhoods, those with positive physical activity and nutrition environments, only about eight percent of children were obese. On the other hand, in the neighborhoods that rated poorly in these criterion, nearly 16 percent of the children were obese—which is similar to the national average.  The findings support recommendations from groups like the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Institute of Medicine, which call for changes in environment, in order to make them more supportive of physical activity and nutrition.

Addressing childhood obesity is very important for long-term health; according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children who are obese in their early teens have an 80% chance of being obese as adults. Obesity is a risk factor for many serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. For adults suffering from obesity, surgical options like the Lap Band are often the most effective way to lose weight. You can learn more about the options offered at the Bariatric Institute of Greater Chicago here.