Childhood Obesity

child-obesity
Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become a major health problem. It has tripled in the last 20 years. Currently 10% of 6 years old & 17% of 15 years old are obese.

It affects the growing child. This effect is recognised as:

  • Feeling tiered all the time
  • Breathlessness and excessive sweating
  • Snoring and difficulty in sleeping
  • Joint pain
  • Teasing or bullying
  • Low self esteem
  • Poor at sports


Long term effects are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure [ Hypertension ]
  • Heart disease and Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • These are just to mention a few

 

Then the most asked question is what is the cause or what leads to obesity in childhood .It has been identified that poor lifestyle is one of the major factors in childhood obesity.


In poor life style we can include:

  • Eating unhealthy food which are rich in sugars and fat
  • Lack of physical activity for example not taking part in sports, and avoiding easily done physical activity like walking to school or riding a bike to school.
  • Sedentary pastimes include: watching TV, on the internet and playing computer games to mention a few.
  • It has been seen that poor lifestyle runs in the whole family.

 

There are medical causes leading to obesity i.e. Prader Willi syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Cushing Syndrome and eating disorders to mention a few.

 

To diagnose obesity the BMI [Body mass index] has to be calculated. Specific age adjusted chart is used. It is also important to measure the abdominal girth. BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilogram by height in meters squared. A BMI calculator is available in this programme.

 

Obesity in childhood if of nonmedical causes can be prevented by simple measures like eating regular meals as a family, which consists of the required amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate required per day by a growing child. The calorie requirement is calculated depending on the daily physical activity.

 

  • Reduce high-calorie food like food rich in sugar and fat .This also goes for sugary drinks.
  • Parents should try to ensure that the child’s diet consists of at least five or more portions of fruit and vegetable per day.
  • Prefer starchy foods like rice, pasta, bread & cereals.
  • Reduce amount of oil and butter used in cooking and definitely avoid overeating. It is said that it is always healthy to leave the dining table just hungry.
  • Parents should liaise with the school regarding the provision of healthy lunch time meals.

The most IMPORTANT thing to do is to motivate the child and set realistic goals for them to achive

 

Physical activities have a very important role to play. it is always a help to encourage the child to be more active for example cut down on sedentary habits like watching TV for long periods of time or being on the internet or playing computer games, when ideally the child should by involved in physical activities, for example taking part in outdoor games .Include physical activity in daily life i.e. walking, cycling and swimming. The child should also be encouraged to take active part in Physical activity [PE] and sports at school.

 

The child should always be praised at their achivments and supported

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