Today's kids may double, even triple, adult obesity rate, study finds

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The obesity epidemic amongst kids is getting worse, and the big question is do overweight kids grow up to be obese adults?

Staying fit and healthy is a priority for 13-year-old Calvin Kelvin, of Boyle Heights. He watched his grandmother die from complications of diabetes.

"It's because my grandmother has died because of diabetes, so after that I just wanted to start to eat healthy," Kelvin said.

New research shows Kelvin is on the right track.

A New England Journal of Medicine report finds obesity in childhood greatly increases your odds of being obese later in life.

Pediatrician Dr. Martha Rivera, with Optimal Healthcare Center and Adventist Health, said overweight children grow up to have several health issues as adults.

"We're starting to see children that are having adult onset diseases. We are seeing chronic diabetes. We're seeing anxiety. We're seeing depression. We're seeing arthritis," he said.

Based on data from five national studies, researchers projected that today's kids may double, possibly even triple the current adult obesity rate of 30 percent.

In simulation models, researchers found kids between the ages of 2 to 19 who were obese had a 57 percent chance of being obese at the age of 35.

A 2-year-old with severe obesity faces a 79 percent chance of being obese as an adult, and an obese 19-year-old has a nearly 94 percent chance.

Rivera said what the study reveals is it's never too early to intervene with better lifestyle choices.

"If more healthcare providers actually took the time to discuss it with their patients and made them aware that they could make lifestyle changes, we would see a difference," she said.

Rivera's advice is to start with getting more sleep. Eat more fresh and less processed foods, exercise as a family and put away smartphones and tablets.

"They have found out that people who have more screen time, there's more insulin resistance," Rivera said.

Sometimes Kelvin eats junk food, but said he prefers vegetables.

"Carrots, bell peppers and broccoli and sweet potato," he said.

From watching his relatives, Kelvin knows firsthand how poor eating and exercise can hurt your health so he hopes other kids will follow his example.
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