"Today I've seen a child, or a young adult, that is 460 pounds with a BMI of 73. I'm worried he's going to die," explains Dr. Karen Young with Arkansas Children's Hospital Fitness Clinic, "I saw a 3 year old whose 80 pounds. I mean we've got severe obesity and I don't want to say your child is severely overweight. How do you convey the seriousness without using the term obese?"
As the number of obese children continues to rise, a group of medical experts from around the country say enough is enough and it's time to stop sugar-coating the truth when it comes to defining children's weight problems.
"I have never liked they category "at risk of overweight" because it sounds like they don't have a problem when in actuality they already do," adds Young.
Some parents agree it's time for kids to learn the true meaning of tough love, especially if it could save their life.
"There's an urgency to save these children's lives," says Young.
"Honestly, I think they should be up front with the children ad parents about what's going on with their kids," admits Jackie Blankenship whose 11 year old daughter is overweight.
And while some fear harsh medical terms such as "obese" could destroy a child's self-esteem, Dr. Young says it's already bruised, "Being called a pig and other horrible things by their fathers and mothers and other family members that's what really causes self-esteem. For a doctor to point out on a growth chart that this is in the category of obesity is not going to cause low self-esteem."
Dr. Young believes most kids want a little direction to steer them towards a healthier lifestyle.
"I have many children weep with joy when I talk to them and make them feel better about their weight. I may use the term obesity, but I make the kids feel better," explains Young.
"She's doing better. We'll get this under control one way or another," adds Blankenship.
Dr. Young says kids she visits with at the
She helps obese kids by reviewing their growth chart with them and then simply tells them if they maintain their weight as they grow they wont need to lose much weight.
"I tell them the good news whenever I can about their healthy habits. If they're being active or eating vegetables I praise them for those good habits. I tell them anything I can to feel better about themselves or their habits," adds Young.