Why Do Child Car Seats Look Bigger?

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April 18, 2006 | 5,421 views

More than a quarter of young children in the United States have become too heavy for standard car-safety seats. Manufacturers are beginning to make larger versions in reaction. Inadequate car seats could put heavy children at increased risk for injury in a car accident.

Most of the children above the weight limit are 3-year-olds who weigh above 40 pounds, the study found; the standard seat design for 1- to 3-year-olds have built-in safety harnesses intended for a 40-pound load. Three-year-olds over 40 pounds are usually considered overweight, unless they are exceptionally tall.

In total, roughly 25 million U.S. children and teens, or about a third, are currently overweight or at risk of being so, the highest number ever recorded. As many as two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, or about 136 million people.

Public health officials are worried that the country could face an epidemic of obesity-related health problems as a result, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Type 2 diabetes in children is already at an all-time high.

The latest numbers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show a devastating rise in obesity among Americans and, in particular, American children. The number of overweight children jumped 5 percent between 2000 and 2004. That's over 1 million more overweight kids than there were four years earlier.

The epidemic of childhood obesity is affecting American youth in many devastating ways that we never even anticipated. Building bigger car seats for children because standard-sized models don't fit them anymore is a major clue that many Americans are on a path toward a future filled with disease and health problems rather than enjoying life free of health concerns.

According to 2000 Census records, almost 300,000 American children are too big for standard car seats, including some 190,000 3-year-olds. Companies like Britax now offer booster seats that look like a Lazy Boy recliner and can handle a child who weighs as much as 100 pounds.

This terrible problem has much to do with a continuing failure among parents to recognize their own children are getting heavier and sicker and to understand how much adults influence the good and bad habits of their kids.

Take a moment to review the seven risk factors for childhood obesity I posted last year, then take these necessary steps to protect your child's health:

Later this year I will be publishing a book with Dr. Ben Lerner on child obesity that will expand greatly on the practical solutions that are available.

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