How calories add up for obese kids

Image courtesy of Arthur84/

Image courtesy of Arthur84/

A recent study has revealed that overweight children these days eat too much calories than what their parents or doctors realize.

The study, seen on the July 30 online issue of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, released an update on the mathematical model used by doctors before to measure the daily calorie needs of children and young adults. The new model hopes to give a more accurate computation of how much energy do children and teens need.

The new model considers factors such as children’s higher metabolism compared to adults and the relative decrease in activity as these children grew to become adolescents. This drop in physical activity is further emphasized as well as the fact that children require more energy as their bodies grow in size. To sum it up, the new model states that it takes far more calories, than those believed by experts before, for children to gain weight.

To further illustrate, the former model predicts that a girl who has a normal weight at age 5 will have to consume 40 extra calories every day to be 22 lbs. overweight when she becomes 10 yrs. old. It’s worthy to take note that 40 calories is just like eating an extra apple every day.

Using the findings in the new model, that same girl will have to eat around 400 calories- not only 40 calories, to get the same body by the time she’s 10. So you can get the picture, 400 calories is roughly the equivalent of modest burger or medium sized french fries.

The study also points out that the amount of calories it takes for boys to gain weight slightly changes from those for girls. Kevin Hall from the U.S National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease acknowledge that it is a moving target that depends also on the child’s genetics, age and physical activity. The main point of the study is that calorie estimates are much larger than what most people believe in the past.

Kevin Hall, along with his co-researchers, used historical data which they got from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out how children’s obesity has progressed. They found out that children today are 13 pounds heavier than kids during the late 1970s. Based on their careful computations, children these days consume 200 calories more than before.

Hall claimed that this research can aid a lot of parents and doctors in managing obesity. The study aims to answer the question “how we got there” and hopefully give an accurate picture of how many extra calories were consumed along the way. Cutting on these extra calories, however, will not guarantee that these kids will lose weight. Avoiding the extra calories can only prevent one from gaining weight. Additional exercise is necessary to lose weight.

Check out our specialized calorie counting app to help you manage your calorie intake.