By Alissa Kocer
As a pediatrician, Sarah Armstrong, MD, has devoted her career to improving children’s health and well-being.
“My training allowed me to deal with most of the pediatric conditions that came into my office,” Armstrong said, “but by the late 1990s – early 2000s, something different was emerging. More kids were coming in with obesity and exhibiting adult-type problems.”
Today, nearly one in three kids is overweight or has obesity. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile, and overweight is defined as a BMI at or about the 85th percentile. BMI is calculated using weight and height.
“Pediatric obesity is a precursor to many chronic health diseases in adults,” Armstrong said. “It is associated with adult obesity, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, especially colon, breast and prostate cancers, and may also affect children’s emotional health.” Children with obesity have an 80% chance of staying overweight for their entire lives.