Newark pediatrician Diane LeMay recalls a time, just four or five years ago, when pediatricians hesitated to utter the word “obesity” in the presence of patients.
It offended people.
But the bottom line was — and is — that, as the American Academy of Pediatrics several years ago encouraged practitioners, “you have to say the words,” LeMay said. “You have to teach them what’s going on with their bodies.”
“In the past three to five years, the issue with obesity in general in children has increased pretty dramatically,” said LeMay, who has been a pediatrician for 22 years — long enough to see the trend worsen among the patients who come into her office.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, with the percentage of obese children ages 6 to 11 in the U.S. increasing from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008.
In 2008, according to the CDC, more than a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese — “overweight” being defined as “having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water or a combination of these factors”; “obese” is defined as “having excess body fat.”