Childhood obesity is currently one of the most widespread medical problems affecting children (ages 6-11) and adolescents (ages 12-18) throughout the United States. In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has significantly increased and recent reports by government agencies like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) have definitively asserted that childhood obesity in the U. S. has become an epidemic. Even the most conservative reports by organizations like the American Obesity Association indicate that approximately one quarter of all children and adolescents are either overweight or obese, which is staggering. Furthermore, it is well documented that more than half of all obese children continue to struggle with their obesity as adults.
Obesity is the catalyst that triggers and perpetuates serious health and mental health conditions that place children at high risk for morbidity. Specifically, children are at higher risk of developing hypercholesterolemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, cancer (colon, thyroid, breast, cervical, prostate), osteoarthritis, skin and bacteria infections, back pain, bone and joint problems, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, pancreatitis, gallstones, excess insulin secretion, and sleep apnea. Further, obese children are at higher risk of experiencing social rejection, psychological problems, stigmatization, discrimination, and poor self-esteem.