OBESITY IN CHILDREN; CAUSES AND PREVENTION
Obesity is a serious medical condition that affects people of all ages and gender. When it is present in children and adolescents, it is known as Childhood Obesity. The extra kilos/pounds that children gain while growing can expose them to the risk of developing health problems that were once considered adult problems. Problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It can also lead children and adolescents into poor self-esteem and depression. It’s important to understand that not all children carrying extra kilos/pounds are overweight or obese.Some children have larger than average body frames and carry different amounts of body fat at various stages of development.
Growth charts, the body mass index (BMI) and, and other tests can help you determine if your child’s weight could pose health problems
Risk factors of Obesity in Children
Children can become overweight and obese for a wide range of reasons which include any of the followings:
- Lifestyle issues: A child’s activity level plays an important role in determining a child’s weight. Too little activity and high calorie diets are the main predisposing factors to childhood obesity. Many children spend a lot time watching television and playing video games. These habits increase their hours of inactivity.
- Diet: Regular consumption of high-calorie and processed foods such as fast foods and baked goods can cause your child to gain extra weight. Major culprits in childhood obesity include fruit juices, sports drinks, candies, and desserts.
- Lack of exercise: Children who don’t exercise much are more likely to gain weight because they don’t burn as many calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games, also contributes to the problem. TV shows also often feature ads for unhealthy foods.
- Family factors: your child might be at risk of developing obesity if parents are obese because of shared family behaviors of eating and a sedentary lifestyle without activity. It is riskier if the child is being raised in a family where high- calorie foods are always used as treaties and physical exercise isn’t encouraged.
- Psychological factors: Some children overeat to overcome worries and fight boredom.
- Socioeconomic factors: Most people buy convenience foods that don’t spoil quickly, such as frozen meals and cookies due to limited resources and access to supermarkets.
- Medical condition: such as a hormonal problem.
- Certain medications: Some prescription drugs can increase the risk of developing obesity. They include some corticosteroids and anti-depressants.
Complications arising from childhood obesity may range from physiological to social, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Joint pain as a result of extra pain on the hips and knees
- Early heart disease
- Breathing problems. Obese children are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. This is a life-threatening disorder in which a child’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Repeated teasing or bullying by their peers
- Loss of self-esteem and an increased risk of depression and anxiety
Preventing childhood obesity helps protect your child’s health now and in the future. To help prevent obesity in your child, you should do the following:
- Set a good example by making healthy eating and regular physical activity a family routine.
- Make healthy snacks available. Such as pop-corn that has no butter, fruits with low-fat yogurt, whole cereal with low-fat milk, etc
- Stop promising/giving junks for good behaviors
- Be sure your child gets enough sleep. Lack of sleep can trigger hormonal imbalances that may lead to increased appetite.
- Ensure your child has a doctor’s visit at least once a year. During such visits, the doctor measures your child’s height and weight and calculates his or her BMI.
If you’re worried that your child is gaining too much weight, talk to a doctor. The doctor will take your child’s history of growth and development, your family’s weight-for-height history, and find out where your child lands on the growth charts.
You can consult with a doctor today at eDokita. eDokita is a health technology organisation that provides health services to you at your own convenience. Download eDokita app today to consult a doctor.