Obesity In Children: Twitter Chat Takes On Secret Health Crisis

Weighing in on childhood obesity in America today is leaving experts concerned over the health of our nation's youth.

Regardless of the chokingly startling numbers that prove childhood obesity is still ballooning in this country, many parents and experts alike have trouble discussing the topic, sensitivity in children being such a hotbed issue, after all, especially considering all of the anti-bully campaigns of late.

But, not being able to talk to or even about children who are obese is an issue that can't be ignored in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2010 report showing more than a third of the children/adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

"And since 1980, the number of obese children and adolescents has almost tripled, a jump attributed in part to poor food choices and insufficient physical activity," ABC News says.

It's these very same numbers that led ABC News' own chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser to host a Twitter chat dealing with the subject of childhood obesity on Tuesday, March 12.

Experts involved included those from: the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics, in addition to clinicians, parents and "others with personal experience." The chat went on for one hour and highlights have been listed by ABC News.

"Childhood obesity affects every organ system in the body," Director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at Mayo Clinic Dr. Seema Kumar tweeted.

"Roughly 70 percent of obese youth are thought to have at least one risk factor for heart disease," the CDC reported, with other diseases children with obesity could be at risk of being: diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

"Overweight children are also more likely to be bullied," President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Thomas McInerny tweeted in light of obesity in children being linked to depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem.

ABC News continues that the tweeters taking part in the Twitter chat concurred that the government would find a better value in funding healthy choice guidance amongst children over dealing with the medical costs later, once those children become obese.

"Obesity costs $7.6 billion/yr in NY," Montefiore Medical Center tweeted.

"Sugary drinks are a major source of empty calories and contribute to kids gaining weight," Senior Vice President and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group James Marks tweeted in reference to the recently shot-down super-sized soda ban proposed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I'd love it if school tied in lessons - learning about calories in science, math, PE and home economics! Apply in cafeteria!" @FatGirlvsWorld tweeted.

"Lack of exercise is [a] big risk factor for being overweight," McInerny tweeted. "Need at least 1hr [of]exercise 5 days/wk."

McInerny's formula for healthy kids was also revealed via Twitter as follows: "5-2-1-0 formula: 5 fruits and vegetables; less than 2 hours of screen time; 1 hour of exercise; and 0 sugary drinks."

The full transcript of the chat can be seen here.

Dr. Besser's next Twitter chat will take place on Tuesday, March 19 at 1 p.m. ET. More information about the upcoming discussion about concussions can be seen here

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