Obesity is a common health problem that is defined by a high percentage of body fat. A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is an indicator of obesity. Over the past few decades, obesity has become a major health problem. In fact, it is now considered an epidemic in the United States.
Despite the increasing percentages, there are many ways to prevent obesity in children and adults.(1)
Is Childhood Obesity A Serious Condition?
Basically, early intervention in childhood obesity brings good chances of success for the child’s health in later years. Childhood obesity should not be ignored as it has serious health consequences as the child reaches adulthood. These include sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, gonadal dysfunction, flatfoot, dyslipidemia, constipation, cholecystitis, anorexia, bulimia, and others. It can also lead to future cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, reproductive disorders as well as diseases of the digestive tract and musculoskeletal system.
There are also social consequences and effects on the mental health of your child (being bullied in school, having low self-esteem).(3)(4)
Can Childhood Obesity Be Reversed?
Having a child who is diagnosed with obesity is difficult for any parent. Prevention of obesity begins at a young age. It is important to help young people maintain a healthy weight.
Breastfeed Infants if possible, it is associated with a reduced risk of childhood obesity.
Feeding Growing Children Suitable Portion Sizes is important as toddlers don’t need large amounts of food. At the age of 1 to 3 years, every centimeter of height should correspond to about 40 calories from food intake.
Building Early Relationships With Healthy Foods is another essential part. Encourage your child to try a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and proteins from an early age. As they get older, they are more likely to include these healthy foods in their own diet.
Eat Healthy Food As A Family will benefit your child. Changing family eating habits enables children to experience healthy eating early on. This will make it easier for them to continue to follow good eating habits as they grow into adults.
Encourage Your Child To Eat Slowly and only when he/she is hungry. Overeating can happen when you eat when you are not hungry. This excess fuel is eventually stored as body fat and can lead to obesity. Encourage your child to eat only when they feel hungry and chew more slowly to improve digestion.
Limit Unhealthy Foods In The Home can help a lot. If you bring unhealthy food into the household, your child may eat it often. Try to fill the refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods and allowing less healthy snacks as a rare treat.
Incorporation Of Fun And Get Involved In Exciting Physical Activity will reduce the chance of being obese. The World Health Organization recommends that children and adolescents should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Fun physical activities include games, sports, gymnastics classes, or even outdoor tasks.
Limit Screen Time Of Your Children. More time in front of the screen means less time for physical activity and good sleep. Because exercise and sleep play a role in maintaining a healthy weight, it is important to encourage other activities beyond computer or television time.
Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep. Children, as well as adults with inadequate sleep for prolonged periods, tend to suffer from weight gain problems. Healthy sleeping habits include a sleep schedule, a sleep pattern, and a comfortable pillow and mattress.(5,6)
Common Causes Of Obesity
Children become overweight and obese for various reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating patterns or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is obesity caused by a condition such as a hormonal problem. A physical examination and some blood tests can rule out the possibility of other illnesses as the cause of obesity.
Although weight problems occur in families, not all children with a family history of obesity will be overweight. Children whose parents or siblings are overweight may have an increased risk of becoming overweight, but this can be linked to common family behavior such as eating and exercise habits.
A child’s overall nutrition and level of activity play an important role in determining a child’s weight. Most kids spend much time idle in the current world. For example, the average child spends about four hours a day watching TV. As computers and video games become more popular, the number of hours of inactivity can increase.(2)
- Sahoo K, Sahoo B, Choudhury AK, Sofi NY, Kumar R, Bhadoria AS. Childhood obesity: causes and consequences. Journal of family medicine and primary care. 2015;4(2):187.
- Kumar S, Kelly AS. Review of childhood obesity: from epidemiology, etiology, and comorbidities to clinical assessment and treatment. Paper presented at: Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2017.
- Simmonds M, Llewellyn A, Owen C, Woolacott N. Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews. 2016;17(2):95-107.
- Williams EP, Mesidor M, Winters K, Dubbert PM, Wyatt SB. Overweight and obesity: prevalence, consequences, and causes of a growing public health problem. Current obesity reports. 2015;4(3):363-370.
- Wadden TA, Bray GA. Handbook of obesity treatment. Guilford Publications; 2018.
- Freemark MS. Pediatric obesity: Etiology, pathogenesis and treatment. Springer; 2018.