Causes of Childhood Obesity and Health Risks Associated With An Overweight Child

What is Childhood Obesity?

Children with BMI (Body Mass Index) at the same level or higher than 95% of their peers are considered obese.

BMI index detects the weight status of a person.

Childhood obesity is a serious health threat. Such children are at risk of a several chronic health conditions. It not only affects the children physically but also has a mental impact.

What Causes Childhood Obesity?

Various factors play a role in the occurrence of childhood obesity such as family history, psychological factors, and lifestyle. But, more than any of these the main cause is eating too much and exercising very little.

A diet that is high and fats or sugar and low in nutrients make children gain weight quickly.

Also, convenience foods such as frozen dinners, salty snacks, and canned pasta give a major contribution to weight gain.

Lack of physical activity is another cause of childhood obesity. Anyone tends to gain weight if they are physically less active.
In some children, psychological issues may lead to weight gain. Bored, stressed, or depressed kids or teen, tend to binge more to deal with their negative emotions.

Health Risks Associated With An Overweight Child

Obese children are at a higher risk of developing health problems than their peers. The diseases include diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is not able to metabolize glucose properly. It can lead to further complications such as eye disease, nerve damage, and kidney dysfunction.

Overweight children and adults are at a higher risk of developing type2 diabetes(1)

Heart Disease

Food that is high in fats and salt cause cholesterol levels and blood pressure to rise.

High cholesterol and blood pressure increase the risk of heart disease in children.

If not taken care of, this can further complicate to heart attack and stroke.

Asthma

Chronic inflammation of the lung airway is termed as Asthma.

According to a study, about 38% of adults with asthma are also obese.(2) The study also found obesity to be a risk factor for severe asthma.

Sleep Disorders

Overweight kids and teens may suffer from sleep disorders and obstructive sleep apnea. Similarly, sleep timing patterns may also relate to obesity in kids.(3)

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening breathing disorder that is characterized by a brief interruption of sleep.

Extra weight present in the neck area of an obese child can block the airway and cause sleep disturbance.

Joint Pain

Due to the excess weight, an obese child may experience joint stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion. Obesity is also associated with joint dysfunction and fractures.(4)

Losing weight in such cases can help eliminate joint problems.

Menstrual Problems

An overweight girl tends to reach puberty at an early age.(5) Also, obesity may contribute to menstrual irregularities and development of fibroids, later in life.(6)

Liver Problems

Obese people are at risk of a liver disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This can lead to cirrhosis.(7)

Nutrition For An Obese Child

Keeping in mind all the risks involved, changing eating patterns in obese children is essential.

Limiting the stock of sweets and soft drinks is important. Children like these the most and if not present at home will be consumed less. Fast food consumption should be stopped and more importance should be given to home-cooked food.

The meals and snacks should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed, high in fats, salty snacks.

There are good chances of an overweight child losing weight by adopting healthy eating habits.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Fight Obesity

Lifestyle changes can be of major help in fighting childhood obesity.

Increase Physical Activity: Increasing the amount of physical activity can help children shed weight easily. Do not make the physical activity a task for them. It can be any kind of playful activity that gives them a good workout.

It is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that one hour of exercise is worthy to remain healthy.

Find out ways so that the entire family enjoys together. It not only makes a child physically active but also makes him learn how to bond.

Cutting Down Screen Time: Children, who spend several hours in front of the television, laptop, or computer, tend to be overweight.

More screen time means less physical activity and more binging on snacks that are high in calories, fats, and sugar.(8)

Childhood obesity is a serious problem and has serious health risks associated with it. As adults, you need to find out ways to encourage children to have a healthy lifestyle and stay fit for longer.

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