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Childhood Obesity Addressing Poor Habits Early Can Lead to Children Becoming Healthier Adults In the last 30 years, obesity rates have more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Pediatrician Wendy Slusser, MD, cofounder and medical director of the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight program — a multidisciplinary approach to treating overweight children — discusses strategies for preventing and treating the problem, and when to seek help. UCLAHEALTH.ORG 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) A lot has been said about the risks of obesity in adulthood, but what are the biggest health concerns for children and adolescents? Recently, adult diseases have been creeping down to adolescence, and even pre- adolescence. Type 2 diabetes in children has increased with the rise of obesity, and we also see hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea that we would normally not have seen at such young ages. The most common and immediate effects of obesity during childhood, however, are musculoskeletal and stomach complaints, as well as mental-health issues. We see a lot of overweight children with aches and pains, which perpetuate the problem because then the child isn’t active. Gastrointestinal complaints are a huge factor related to obesity. And the emotional well-being of children can affect so much, from their school performance