Childhood obesity is a serious condition, where excess body fat negatively affects a child’s overall health and well-being. There is a difference between being overweight and obese. Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat whereas being overweight is having excess body weight with respect to a particular height.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool made to measure overweight and obesity. BMI is calculated according to a child’s age, sex, and height. A child with a BMI above 85th percentile is considered as overweight and a BMI above or equal to 95th percentile is defined as obesity. According to WHO’s report on obesity in children; they have predicted that the number of obese children globally will reach to 250 million by 2030, up from 150 million now.
Obesity in kids is an alarming condition where surplus body fat affects a kid’s overall well-being and health negatively. Childhood obesity is usually associated with higher chances of premature deaths and disability in adulthood. In fact, overweight and obese children are more likely to remain obese into adulthood and develop diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age.
CAUSES OF OBESITY IN CHILDREN
Major factors that cause childhood obesity include:
Daily consumption of high-calorie meals including bakery items, candy, fast food, sugar-sweetened drinks like soft drinks, causes weight gain in children. Excessive consumption of fast food and restaurant food end up in obesity.Minimal to no consumption of vegetables and fruits is additionally linked with weight gain.
Exercise and physical movement are highly associated with body weight. Kids who remain sedentary and waste more time on computers, mobile phones, television, or playing video games are at greater risk of putting on excess weight. Regular physical exercises including outdoor sports are essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
If parents are overweight, there is a great chance that the the child would be obese. Additionally, a child’s meal choices are mostly influenced by family meals. Parents who support irregular or unhealthy eating practices and no activity have more overweight kids.
Family tension and other particular difficulties in the house can raise an obese kid. To deal with emotions such as depression and stress, kids tend to over eat which make them obese. If you notice that your child has obesity at a tender age, you should work towards reducing it so that you can avoid long term effects of childhood obesity in the future.
Parents who lack availability, access, and affordability to wholesome meals raise obese kids. Absence of knowledge on diet and meal options is additionally one of the reasons.
SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF CHILD OBESITY
Here’s what you can do to check if your child is obese:
1- BMI calculations:
BMI is a popular tool to know if your child’s weight is healthy or unhealthy.
A waistline broader than the average for children can be a sign of child obesity
Obesity is closely linked with gastroesophageal disorders such as constipation, acidity, etc.
EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Following are the long term effects of childhood obesity:
1. Type 2 diabetes.
2. High blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol levels.
3. Liver disease.
4. Bone and joint problems.
5. Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
6. Breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea.
7. Skin infections due to moisture from sweat being trapped in skin folds.
8. Stress and anxiety. Children who are obese might suffer from low self-esteem and even get stressed. They might think that other children are better than them.
9. Cancer such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer or even colon cancer.
On behalf of NAYS Pakistan, we want the concerned authorities to keep a check on one of the most blatantly visible and yet most neglected public health problems. If we look around us we can find out that children are eating too much of what they don’t need to eat; which is excessive amount of salt, sugar and fat in their food. We should not just have to provide children enough to eat but the most important thing we need to consider is to get them the healthy and the right food to eat.
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Article compiled by: Ms. Sundeela Fayyaz