Obesity in children is a severe disease impacting children and teenagers. Obese children are above the normal weight for their age and height.
Childhood obesity is particularly problematic because the extra weight usually causes children to start having health problems that were previously considered exclusive to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Many obese children are also obese in adulthood, especially if one or both parents are obese. Childhood obesity can also generate low self-esteem and depression.
One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the eating and exercise habits of the whole family. The treatment and prevention of childhood obesity helps protect your child’s health both now and in the future. (1)
How To Diagnose Childhood Obesity?
- As part of the regular care of the healthy child, the doctor calculates your child’s BMI and determines where it falls on the BMI growth chart according to his age. The BMI helps indicate if your child is overweight for their age and height.
- Through the growth chart, the doctor determines your child’s percentile, that is, how your child compares to other children of the same sex and age.
- BMI between 85th and 94th percentiles: Overweight
- BMI 95th percentile or higher: Obesity
Because the BMI does not consider factors such as musculature or having a larger than average body structure and because growth patterns vary widely among children, the doctor also takes into account the growth and development of your child. This helps determine if your child’s weight is a health problem.
Other factors to evaluate are:
- Family history of obesity and weight-related health problems, such as diabetes
- Your child’s eating habits
- The level of activity of your child
- Other health conditions your child
- Psychosocial history, including incidents of depression, sleep disorders and sadness, and if your child feels isolated or lonely
- Blood tests for cholesterol, blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, vitamin D deficiency or other obesity-related conditions may also be considered.(3)
What Is The Best Medicine For Childhood Obesity?
Treatment for childhood obesity depends on the age of the child and whether they have other diseases. Treatment usually involves making changes in eating habits and in the level of physical activity. In certain circumstances, the treatment may also include medication or weight loss surgery.
The methods to maintain your child’s current weight or lose weight are the same: Your child needs to eat a healthy diet in terms of type and quantity of food and increase physical activity. Success depends largely on your commitment to helping your child make such changes.(4)(5)
Use Of Medicines
There are some medicines prescribed for obese children and as part of a general weight loss plan. But, the risks of taking these medicines for long-term are unknown and there are still doubts regarding the effects of medications on weight loss and weight maintenance in adolescents.
- Healthy Nutrition: Parents are the ones who buy the groceries, cook the food and decide where the food is eaten. No matter how small the changes, they can make a big difference in your child’s health. Limit the use of sugary drinks and fast foods, choose more fruits and vegetables, have family meals together, do not serve more than a sufficient amount of food to the children.
- Physical Activity: Having enough physical activity is a vital part of getting a healthy weight maintained, particularly for children. Exercise helps to burn calories, strengthen bones and muscles, and help children sleep better at night and be more alert during the day.(4)(5)
Common Symptoms Of Childhood Obesity
Not every child with extra body weight is considered obese or overweight. Some children have larger body structures than the average structure. In addition, children normally store varying amounts of body fat at different stages of development. Therefore, you may not know at a glance if weight is a health problem for your child.
The body mass index (BMI), which provides a weight reference in relation to height, is the accepted measure of overweight and obesity. Your child’s doctor can use the growth charts, BMI and, if necessary, other tests to help determine if his weight can pose health problems.
If you are worried because your child is gaining too much weight, check with your doctor. The doctor will take into account the history of growth and development, the family history of the relationship between weight and height, and the location of your child on the growth charts. This can help determine if your child’s weight is within an unhealthy range.(2)
Lifestyle-related problems (such as doing very little activity and consuming high-calorie foods and drinks) are the main causes of childhood obesity. However, some genetic and hormonal factors may also have an important role. For example, in recent research, it has been discovered that changes in digestive hormones can affect the signals that make you feel satisfied.(2)(3)
- Han JC, Lawlor DA, Kimm SY. Childhood obesity. The lancet. 2010;375(9727):1737-1748.
- Freemark MS. Pediatric obesity: Etiology, pathogenesis and treatment. Springer; 2018.
- Gurnani M, Birken C, Hamilton J. Childhood obesity: causes, consequences, and management. Pediatric Clinics. 2015;62(4):821-840.
- Wadden TA, Bray GA. Handbook of obesity treatment. Guilford Publications; 2018.
- Puhl R, Suh Y. Health consequences of weight stigma: implications for obesity prevention and treatment. Current obesity reports. 2015;4(2):182-190.
- Is Childhood Obesity A Problem & What Are Its Coping Methods?
- What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Childhood Obesity & Which Country Has The Highest Rate Of It?
- Is Childhood Obesity A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?
- Lifestyle Changes For Childhood Obesity
- How Can We Solve Childhood Obesity & Are Parents To Blame For It?
- What Happens To Untreated Childhood Obesity & When To Go To Doctor?
- Who Is At Risk For Childhood Obesity & Is There A Blood Test For It?