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What is Obesity?

A condition in which a child is significantly overweight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So you might not know by how your child looks if weight is a health concern.

What is childhood obesity?

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What is obesity for a 5-year-old?

If your child’s BMI is in the 85th percentile – meaning it’s higher than that of 85 percent of children his age and gender – he would be considered overweight

Calculation of BMI

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What are the causes of childhood obesity?

Lifestyle issues — too little activity and too many calories from food and drinks — are the main contributors to childhood obesity. But genetic and hormonal factors might play a role as well.  Obesity can increase a child’s risk for serious and chronic medical problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, high blood pressure (Hypertension) orthopedic problems. There are many reasons why a child may be obese, including medical or genetic ones. In most cases, though, children are overweight because they eat unhealthful foods and lead a sedentary lifestyle. If you think your child is overweight because of a medical condition, consult your pediatrician who can perform tests to check.

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Reasons why more and more children are becoming obese?

  • behavioral factors: Eating bigger portions, eating foods that are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor (junk foods), spending lots of time in front of the television or computer, and spending too little time doing physical activities
  • environmental factors: easy access to high-calorie junk foods, few opportunities for physical activity, lack of parks and playgrounds in some communities
  • genetic factors: A child is at increased risk for obesity when at least one parent is obese. However, genes do not necessarily mean a child is destined to be overweight — there are several steps a child can take to lower his risk.
  • medications: steroids, some antidepressants, and other
  • medical conditions: Prader-Willi, ( A genetic disorder that causes obesity, intellectual disability, and shortness in height) and hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism are among the medical disorders that can cause obesity.

What are the symptoms of childhood obesity?

Each child may experience different symptoms but some of the most common symptoms:-

Appearance: stretch marks on hips and abdomen; dark, velvety skin (known as acanthosis nigricans) around the neck and in other areas; fatty tissue deposition in the breast area (an especially troublesome issue for boys)

psychological: Teasing and abuse; poor self-esteem; eating disorders

pulmonary: Shortness of breath when physically active; sleep apnea

Gastroenterological: constipation,

reproductive: early puberty and irregular menstrual cycles in girls; delayed puberty in boys; genitals may appear disproportionately small in males

orthopedic: flat feet; dislocated hip, knock knees (is a condition in which the knees tilt inward while the ankles remain spaced apart. The condition is slightly more common in girls, though boys can develop it too. It is usually part of a child’s normal growth and development).

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Consequences of Obesity:

Childhood obesity is a complex health issue. Obesity during childhood can harm the body in a variety of ways. Children who have obesity are more likely to have:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea.
  • Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
  • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).
  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • Low self-esteem and lower self-reported quality of life.
  • Social problems such as bullying and stigma.
  • increased risk of being overweight or obese as an adult
  • increased risk for medical problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, reproductive problems, and some cancers
  • psychosocial disabilities, including social isolation, depression.

How can overweight and obesity be reduced?

Individual responsibility can only have its full effect where people have access to a healthy lifestyle. Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, by making the choice of healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (the choice that is the most accessible, available, and affordable), and therefore preventing overweight and obesity.

  • reducing the fat, sugar, and salt content of processed foods;
  • ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
  • restricting marketing of foods high in sugars, salt, and fats, especially those foods aimed at children and teenagers; and ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice daily.

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Children can be encouraged to adopt healthy eating behaviors and be physically active when parents:

  • Focus on good health, not a certain weight goal. Teach and model healthy and positive attitudes toward food and physical activity without emphasizing body weight.
  • Establish daily meal and snack times, and eat together as frequently as possible. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available based on the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children. Determine what food is offered and when, and let the child decide whether and how much to eat.

Activities should be included to prevent child obesity:

They are Muscle-strengthening activities, running, jumping, football, badminton, cycling, swimming, Going for a walk, bike, or all kinds of outdoor games, doing household chores, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing at the park, which means you have to include games which help to burn more energy. Thus you can make it easier to control weight.

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Try to avoid these common things:-

  • Don’t reward kids for good behavior or try to stop bad behavior with sweets or treats. Find other ways to change behavior.
  • Don’t have a clean-plate policy. Even babies turn away from the bottle or breast to send signals that they’re full. If kids are satisfied, don’t force them to keep eating. Reinforce the idea that they should only eat when they’re hungry.
  •  Don’t talk about “bad foods” or completely ban all sweets and favorite snacks. Kids may rebel and overeat forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own. Serve healthy foods most of the time and offer treats once in a while.

Prevent Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents

Obesity increases even more as children get older. For ages 6 to 11, at least one child in five is overweight. Over the last two decades, this number has increased by more than 50 percent and the number of obese children has nearly doubled.

Keeping active can help children stay at a healthy weight or lose weight. Talk to kids about the importance of eating well and being active.

Be a role model by eating well, exercising regularly, and building healthy habits in your own daily life.

Make sure that they are getting more time to play, and you must play with your kids. it a family affair that will become second nature for everyone.

Encourage your kids to play instead of sitting in computer games or watching TV. Promote homely food.

Vasantha. K. P