About Obesity

At Children’s Healthy Weigh of Buffalo we use a Body Composition Scale that calculates the body’s percentage of fat and muscle.

Why is this better than a simple weight on a typical scale?

When you are active, you build muscle. Muscle is heavy, so it causes your weight to increase. This kind of weight gain is good! A normal scale cannot determine whether your weight increase is in fat or muscle.  Many people don’t know that they're succeeding until they watch the changes in their body composition over time.

How do I know if my child’s weight is in a health risk category?

BMI (Basal Metabolic Index)  is an easy method of screening for weight categories that may lead to health problems. It is calculated using age, gender, height and weight. The following CDC widget will calculate the BMI for children through 19 years of age.  The BMI can be plotted on the appropriate graph with goal of <95%ile.

Obesity (excess fat storage) arises from an imbalance between energy intake (calories) and energy expenditure (burning calories). Many factors influence this balance. 

Obesity is not caused by a lack of self control. It cannot be explained simply by how much we consume, but also what we eat and when we eat. A lack of physical activity greatly contributes to abnormal weight gain. It is true that a tendency to be obese can be inherited. The world around us influences us. In rare cases, a disease process can influence rate of weight gain.

There is no single quick fix nor is there a single way to achieve permanent weight loss for every individual. Obesity is a complex disease that deserves a comprehensive treatment plan supported by multiple disciplines.   

Health Risks of Obesity

For years it has been clear that obese children are likely to become obese adults with medical problems; however the crisis occurring today is that increasing numbers of children are becoming ill long before adulthood, and obesity is to blame.

The following diseases are caused by obesity and are often cured with weight loss:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Fatty liver
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Sleep apnea
  • Joint problems with pain
  • Menstrual cycle abnormalities
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Anxiety and depression

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports weight loss surgery in select children and adolescents.

Non-insulin-dependent diabetes is highly associated with obesity. A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight. Obese patients who are not diabetic will significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes with weight loss.

Heart Disease
There is an increased risk for heart disease, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, angina or chest pain, sudden death and abnormal heart rhythms.

High blood pressure/Hypertension
Hypertension is also a risk factor of obesity. Losing weight is one of the primary recommendations for individuals with high blood pressure.

High cholesterol
High levels of "bad-cholesterol" and low levels of "good cholesterol" is very common in individuals with severe obesity. These cholesterol abnormalities increase the risks of heart disease , strokes and paralysis. Weight loss and regular exercise is critical for prevention of these life threatening complications.

Menstrual Irregularities
Many overweight adolescents and young women have irregular periods or do not get their periods for months. This may be associated with excess body hair because of a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is strongly associated with excess weight gain and is reversible with weight loss.

Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea (gaps in breathing during sleep) is a very common and serious complication of obesity. It can become so serious that heart and lung damage or sudden death can result.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer: uterine, colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney and breast cancer.

For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9 to 13%.

Other important health risks
Gastroesophageal reflux or severe heartburn, urinary incontinence, venous problems of the legs, lower back pain, and disability from degenerative arthritis and disk disease have also been linked to being severely overweight. Other problems, including joint pain and hypoventilation, or shortness of breath, are significantly improved or reversed by weight loss.

Managing Obesity

The Children’s Healthy Weigh Recipe for Success:  

Thanks to funding by the Statler Foundation, Children’s Healthy Weigh has re-invented its clinic to include a very unique, hands-on approach. Patients are now invited to learn to cook with our dietician in the beautiful Conventus kitchen. This new approach to managing diet replaced nutritional education that had previously occurred in an exam room.  Since the clinic cooking classes were introduced in summer 2019, the clinic no-show rate has decreased dramatically.

Over 200 children ranging in age from 4 to 19 years of age have participated in Healthy Weigh cooking classes, which focus on meals that children love, prepared in healthy ways.  In addition to funding cooking class staff, supplies, groceries and educational materials, the Statler Foundation also funded insulated lunch bags, ice packs and food storage containers which promote a “Pack a Healthy Lunch for School” initiative.  Patients come from as far as Utica and Ithaca to participate. The motivation of these families further motivates the Healthy Weigh team. We are grateful to the Statler Foundation for partnering with us to help combat the child obesity epidemic in Western New York.

Service Parent