Childhood obesity

In the 21st century, childhood obesity ranks as one of the most serious public health challenges. The childhood obesity is prevailing at an alarming rate. Obese children are likely to stay obese in their adulthood too and are more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, prevention of childhood obesity is of high priority.

One of the best approaches for reducing the obesity in children is by improving the dietary habits and physical activity.

Causes and Risk factors

There are a variety of causes of obesity in children; the most common reasons include:

  • Genetic factors:Your child may be obese if she or he is from a family of obese people. Your child would carry the genes involved in making them obese.

  • Hormonal imbalances:Abnormalities in the hormonal production and secretion may make your child obese.

  • Lack of physical activity:Children who do not perform regular physical activities have lowered chances of burning out the fats. Too much time spent immobile piles up the extra fat and makes your child obese.

  • Unhealthy eating patterns:Eating high-calorie foods such as processed foods, candies, desserts, etc. would make your child gain excess weight.

  • Psychological factors:During emotional situations to cope up with the stress, or to kill the boredom, few children may overeat. This would make the child obese.

  • Socioeconomic factors:Low-income families may have less access to healthy food. This can also be one of the reasons that can make your child obese.

Symptoms

To conclude on if your child is obese, you must make sure to get the height and weight of the child measured. These measurements allow for the calculation of the body mass index (BMI) to consider the body physique of your child. If your child’s weight is more than what the expected weight is, it is considered that your child has excess amounts of fat stored.

Complications

Childhood obesity can showcase the complications related to physical, social and emotional well-being:

Physical complications:
  • Asthma

  • Early puberty

  • Sleep disorders

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Emotional and Social complications:
  • Depression

  • Low self-esteem

  • Behavioral problems

Your doctor will analyze your child’s BMI to understand if your child is obese for his or her age and height.

Your child’s percentile is determined by using a growth chart. It reveals the information by comparing your child’s weight with the children of same age group.

The BMI for age between 85th and 94th percentile indicates overweight.

The BMI for age 95th percentile or above indicates obesity.

In addition to BMI calculation and charting weight on the growth charts, your child’s doctor would evaluate your:

  • Child’s eating habits

  • Child’s physical activity level

  • Family’s history of obesity and weight-related health issues such as diabetes

Blood tests

Your child’s doctor may order for the blood tests if your child is obese, the tests would include:

  • A cholesterol test

  • A blood sugar test

  • Tests to check the hormonal levels

For initiating the treatment, your doctor will first determine the cause and eradicate it. Your doctor might ask you to start the physical activity that cuts down your calories. You will be asked to follow a well planned dietary program. Drugs and surgery are restricted to severe cases of childhood obesity.

Healthy eating patterns

It is believed that even smaller changes may make big differences in your child’s health.

  • You must limit food that contains high fat and calories.

  • You must limit sweetened beverages in your child’s diet.

  • You must serve appropriate portions of food to your child.

  • You must include fresh fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet rather than chips and junk food or snacks.

Family support for child’s well-being

Parents play a crucial role in helping out their children who are obese. You must talk to your child directly, and encourage him or her:

  • You must be sensitive in understanding your child’s needs and make him/her comfortable to choose the physical activity of his/her own interest.

  • You must find reasons to praise your child’s efforts, and encourage him/her by celebrating when there are any accomplishments in weight loss.

  • You must be patient enough and never stress your child to reduce more weight in less time.