Child obesity – a modern phenomenon

November 12, 2012

Child obesity – a modern phenomenon

With the increasing levels of obesity across all sections of society more and more of us are becoming aware of the possibility that the battle against this life threatening condition should start in childhood.

Child obesity is more and more prevalent and is generally blamed on lack of exercise, too much ‘screen time’ and the increasing amounts of processed and junk foods we all seem to consume. Those who experience child obesity are more likely to carry excess weight into adulthood. Studies also show that increasing numbers of children and teenagers are developing disease of old age; whilst some of these conditions may have an environmental or genetic cause. It is also likely that the 400% increase in child obesity seen in recent years is a significant factor.

Child obesity health problems

Children, young people and adults are all at risk of developing severe health problems when they are classified as being obese. An individual determined to be obese has a BMI reading of over 30 and/or weighs more than 20% over their recommended weight.

  • Hypertension/ high blood pressure – this condition is nine times more likely to develop in those who are obese.

  • Type 2 diabetes – family history and obesity are both risk factors for type 2 diabetes

  • Sleep apnea – this may cause sleep deprivation and its associated problems.

  • Depression – the increasingly negativity to those with weight issues and subsequent social stigma has led to an increase in mental health issues associated with those with child obesity as well as adults.

  • Orthopedic problems – children who are still growing and developing may experience symptoms resembling arthritis as well as damaged cartilage due to excess weight.

  • Asthma – lack of exercise and the prolonged exposure to house dust mites and allergens as a result of a sedentary lifestyle may mean a greater risk of asthma in those with child obesity.

Consult your medical practitioner

If you feel that your child is overweight it is important to seek the advice of your medical practitioner in order to correctly determine that any weight gain is either the result of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle or just part of the growth pattern. Standardized health charts enable medical professionals to provide advice concerning a child’s weight in relation to height and age. Your doctor or health care provider may consider the following factors -

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) this statistic, based on height and weight ratio, is calculated as a percentile for children and teenagers aged between two and nineteen years of age. A child who is at or over the 95th percentile is described as obese. Taller children typically have a higher BMI reading.

  • Heredity factors – children who have a family history of weight problems, tobacco use high cholesterol, diabetes, high levels of cholesterol, heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle may need to be given special consideration when discussing weight loss measures.

  • Symptoms of stress and strain on lower limbs and joints

  • Confusion or an inability to think logically – a frequent side effect of sleep apnea.

Weight loss solutions

Young people and children who are overweight or obese need help in finding healthy weight loss solutions in order to improve their quality of life and life expectancy. Whilst some health professionals recommend the use of weight loss medication this may not be a long term solution since the weight often returns once the drug regime ends. Even herbal weight loss remedies are not as effective in the long term as achieving natural weight loss through simple lifestyle changes.

Children should be taught the benefits of a healthy, well balance diet which includes a wide variety of foods as well as regular exercise from a young age. Losing weight is as simple as eating less and doing more – this applies to children as well as adults.

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