About childhood obesity
What is childhood obesity?
An epidemic is defined as occurring when "new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population during a given time period, substantially exceed what is expected based upon recent experience." Pediatric obesity has reached epidemic proportions when compared with just 20 years ago. The goal of this article is to explore this phenomenon and understand the potential consequences should this pattern continue.
Childhood obesity facts
- Adult and childhood obesity have increased substantially in the last 30 years. Currently, 31% of adults and 18% of children are obese, as defined by their body mass index (BMI).
- The vast majority of obesity represents an imbalance in calories ingested versus calories expended. Other causes of obesity (metabolic, medicines, and other diseases) are very rare.
- Losing body fat requires both caloric restriction and daily vigorous exercise.
- The immediate and long-term consequences of obesity include physical, psychological, and economic issues.
- Obesity prevention will require both a personal and social/cultural change in lifestyle. A large volume of current research will help clarify what will be most helpful.
What is childhood obesity? How is childhood obesity diagnosed?
In order to systematically describe obesity, the concept of body mass index (BMI) was developed. BMI is the ratio between an individual's weight to height relative to their gender and age. BMI addresses the following question: Is the weight of the subject in excess of what is healthy for a given height? Generally (but not always), BMI correlates with the amount of body fat, but it is not a measurement of fat. An individual who has more than the average muscle mass for a given height (for example, weight lifters) will have an elevated BMI but clearly will not be obese. Nomograms for both adults and children have been developed to graphically represent the range of normal when measuring BMI. An individual is overweight when their BMI is between 25.0-29.9. Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30.0. Many web sites have calculators to measure BMI (for example, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/). Measuring body fat may be done via skin-fold-thickness measurement, waist-to-hip-circumference ratio and neutral buoyancy (water displacement) measurements. BMI is not used for children under 2 years of age and instead growth charts should be used to identify any weight issues.
What are the symptoms for childhood obesity?
Not all children carrying extra pounds are Overweight or obese. 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 just by looking at your child if weight is a health concern.
The body mass index (BMI), which provides a guideline of weight in relation to height, is the accepted measure of Overweight and obesity. Your child's doctor can help you figure out if your child's weight could pose health problems by using growth charts, the BMI and, if necessary, other tests.
When to see a doctor
If you're worried that your child is putting on too much weight, talk to his or her doctor. Your child's doctor will consider your child's history of growth and development, your family's weight-for-height history, and where your child lands on the growth charts. This can help determine if your child's weight is in an unhealthy range.
What are the causes for 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. For example, recent research has found that changes in digestive hormones can affect the signals that let you know you're full.
What are the treatments for childhood obesity?
The treatment for childhood obesity is no different than many diseases -- determine the cause and control or eradicate it. Since the overwhelming number of obese individuals are consuming too many calories relative to their energy expenditure ("burning them off"), therapy is directed toward reversing this metabolic equation. Simply put, consume fewer calories and use more up. There are many dietary programs that attempt to address this issue. None is superior over the long term unless the participant embraces these nutritional changes as part of a larger lifestyle recommitment. Drugs and surgery should be restricted to severe cases of childhood (and adult) obesity.
What are the risk factors for childhood obesity?
Many factors — usually working in combination — increase your child's risk of becoming overweight:
- Diet. Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, baked goods and vending machine snacks, can easily cause your child to gain weight. Candy and desserts also can cause weight gain, and more and more evidence points to sugary drinks, including fruit juices, as culprits in obesity in some people.
- 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.
- Family factors. If your child comes from a family of overweight people, he or she may be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high-calorie foods are always available and physical activity isn't encouraged.
- Psychological factors. Personal, parental and family stress can increase a child's risk of obesity. Some children overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions, such as stress, or to fight boredom. Their parents may have similar tendencies.
- Socioeconomic factors. People in some communities have limited resources and limited access to supermarkets. As a result, they may opt for convenience foods that don't spoil quickly, such as frozen meals, crackers and cookies. In addition, people who live in lower-income neighborhoods might not have access to a safe place to exercise.
Is there a cure/medications for childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity can be managed by following certain therapies and weight-loss programs directed by pediatricians or therapists.
1. Therapy for childhood obesity is determined by your child's age and the presence of underlying medical issues. Treatment usually entails modifications in your child's food choices and amount of physical exercise. In some cases, treatment may entail drugs or weight-loss surgery.
2. Children aged 6 to 11 who are obese may be encouraged to change their eating habits in order to lose no more than one pound (or around 0.5 kilogramme) every month. Obese or severely obese older children and teenagers may be urged to change their eating habits in order to lose up to 2 pounds (or roughly 1 kilogramme) every week.
3. The approaches for maintaining or reducing weight in your child are the same: Your child should eat a balanced diet, both in terms of food kind and quantity, and boost physical exercise. Your dedication to assisting your child in making these changes is critical to success.
4. Physical activity is an important aspect of obtaining and sustaining a healthy weight, particularly for children. It burns calories, builds bones and muscles, and aids children's sleep and alertness during the day.
5. Good habits formed in childhood assist adolescents in maintaining healthy weights. Athletic kids are more likely to grow into fit adults.
6. Parents buy groceries, prepare meals, and decide where food is served. Even minor modifications might have a significant impact on your child's health.
Shortness of breath,Fatigue,Increased sweating,Sleep apnea and snoring,Joint pain,Dislocated hips,Flat feet and knock knees,Skin rashes and irritation
Being overweight,High cholesterol
Weight-maintenance program to slow the progress of weight gain