Understanding Childhood Obesity

By J. Clinton Smith | Go to book overview

Introduction

Hardly a week goes by that a magazine or tabloid newspaper doesn't feature an article about someone who is overweight, who is trying to lose weight, or who should be trying to lose weight. “How-to” books about weight loss are available in great number. We know about celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor, David Letterman, and Tommy Lasorda who have successfully dealt with their own weight problems. Others, including swimmer Lynne Cox, musicians Kate Smith, Fats Domino, and Chubby Checker, singer Cass Elliot, Chicago Bear “Refrigerator” Perry, and most professional football linemen, have used excess weight to their advantage. Thanks to overweight opera singers, “It's not over 'til the fat lady sings” is a national aphorism. Americans seem obsessed with weight loss. We talk about how much weight we want to lose or how much we have lost as frequently as we talk about the weather. Our weight and what we're trying to do about it is always a timely subject. And our conversations about weight usually have something to do with our appearance—the way we look to other people.

Self-image is unquestionably important. But there is a far more serious aspect of being overweight that we don't talk about much, and that is how this condition can affect our health and longevity. Consider the following facts:

First, about 500,000 Americans die each year from diseases of the heart, especially coronary artery disease, or disease of the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. This disease doesn't just develop overnight. It is a slow, degenerative process that can begin in childhood. Adults who are obese, who have high blood pressure or abnormal blood cholesterol levels, who use tobacco, and who engage in little or no physical activity appear to be at high risk for this degenerative process (Eckel et al. 1998). Yet mounting evidence indicates that if children who have risk factors can be identified and appropriate corrective action taken,

-ix-

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Understanding Childhood Obesity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Understanding Childhood Obesity 1
  • 1. - Why is Obesity an Important Health Problem in America? 3
  • 2. - Who is Obese, and How Do We Know? 17
  • 3. - How Our Bodies Obtain Energy 33
  • 4. - Obesity: a Disorder of Energy 50
  • 5. - Some Factors That May Determine Obesity 64
  • 6. - What Can Be Done to Prevent Childhood Obesity? 81
  • 7. - If Prevention Doesn't Work 99
  • 8. - The Great Beyond: New Frontiers in the Treatment of Obesity 122
  • Notes 131
  • Glossary 135
  • References 140
  • Index 149
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