Report says obesity starts in childhood

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Researchers at the New England Journal of Medicine say the increased risk of becoming obese as an adult accumulates early. Overall, they say, about half the people who will be obese at 35 already are obese at 20. A severely obese 5 year old faces an 89% risk of midlife obesity.

“My portions before I came into the program, they were big. And I always wanted seconds,” says 16-year-old Sue Bowen.

Sue's doctors at the Community Health Alliance suggested she take part in its Healthy Weight Program.

Called 5210, "Let's Go," it teaches families how to alter their lifestyles by eating five more servings of fruits and vegetables, viewing two fewer hours of screen time, having one more hour of physical activity, and drinking zero sugary drinks and more water.

At the Community Health Alliance on Wells Avenue, families gather to learn methods on how to accomplish healthier eating and exercise routines. It's not easy, as old habits need to change for the better, one step at a time.

The class is taught in English and Spanish, and there are homework assignments where kids and adults mark how often they get exercise or eat fruit. To help them out, fresh fruits and vegetables along with recipes are handed out at class.

Pediatrician Dr. Steve Shane helped implement this program. He says it’s important because weight-related diseases aren't waiting for these kids to grow up into adults.

“Fatty liver disease, that is super common, probably about 40% of the kids have that. We see a lot of kids with knee pain, foot pain, and back pain. And also probably most importantly, we see kids with low self-esteem,” says Dr. Shane.

This study suggests while heavy children face the highest risk of becoming obese as adults, even those who make it to age 20 in good shape face substantial risk in a world where obesity could soon be the new norm.