Obesity is a common disease of these days in adults as well as children. Childhood obesity occurs when the weight of the child is uneven to his age and height. The uneven weight affects the health and fitness of the child. In some countries, childhood obesity becomes an epidemic.
Generally, overeating refers to the major cause of obesity. It’s true for some extent but many other factors like genetic factors, psychological problems (depression and anxiety), sedentary lifestyle, low self-esteem and social problems are also responsible for childhood obesity.
- Obesity and overweight – World Health Organization
- Preventing Obesity in Children and Causes of Child Obesity
Obesity is determined by using the body mass index (BMI) measurements. BMI value is measured by dividing the weight (kilograms) by the square of height (meters). The obesity measurement method for children is different from an adult. A child’s weight is calculated by using a sex and age-specific percentile for BMI instead of BMI classification for adults. This is because the composition of children’s body varies with age and also between girls and boys. The body mass index for children is:
|Weight||BMI for Children (Percentile)|
|Healthy Weight||5 to 85|
|Overweight||85 to 94|
|Obese||95 and above|
Causes of Childhood Obesity
In fact, a sedentary lifestyle and too much eating are the main reasons for childhood obesity. Moreover, hormonal, genetic, psychological, socioeconomic factors and many medicines also play a role as well.
Effect of Diet or overeating
Mostly obesity occurs due to too much daily calories intake relative to daily calories consumption. Usually, unhealthy foods like fast foods or sugary drinks increase daily calories intake, but it may also occur due to over ingestion of healthy foods.
Frequently eating calories rich foods, like baked foods, fast foods, desserts, candies and snacks, can cause your child to gain weight. Moreover, sugary drinks like sports drinks, beverages and fruit juices are also responsible for childhood obesity.
Lack of Physical activity
In the era of the digital world, children are most likely to spend their time in indoor activities like playing video games and watching television. Due to this, they didn’t burn all of their calories which cause an increase in weight.
Genetic or Family factors
Obesity is also transferred family after family due to genetic factors. It means that if a child comes from an obese family, he or she may be more probable to have extra weight. In fact, the reason behind this is inherited genes in children from their parents that make their bodies more probable to gain weight.
Many psychological factors can cause child health issues including weight gain. These factors include stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and emotional problems. All of these factors increase the appetite of children, so they eat more which increases the risk of obesity.
Socioeconomic factors like parental smoking, birth weight, not eating dinner, place of living, community, occupation and income sources are associated with overweight and obesity. Due to low socioeconomic condition maintenance of a balanced diet is not easy which increases the risk of obesity.
Effect of medicines
Some medicines or drugs can raise the risk of weight gain and obesity. These medicines are lithium, prednisone, amitriptyline, gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant), paroxetine (Paxil) and propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal).
Effects of Childhood Obesity
In fact, childhood obesity can cause serious health issues in children’s. These health issues are:
High cholesterol and High blood pressure
Due to obesity blood pressure or cholesterol level increases. Both conditions occur due to unhealthy or poor diet. In fact, a poor diet can cause your child to develop one or both of these conditions. These conditions increase the accumulation of plaques in the arteries, which can make arteries thin and harden. Due to this risk of heart attack or strokes are increases later in life.
Obesity increases the bad cholesterol level and blood pressure which are the major causes of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, heart failure or strokes.
Obesity and sedentary lifestyle affect the production of insulin in children which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Obese or overweight children are more prone to breathing problems. Commonly, obesity causes asthma and sleep apnea in children. Asthma is an allergic problem in which difficulty in breathing occurs while sleep apnea is a disease in which children face obstruction in breathing during sleep.
Stress increases on hips and knees due to extra weight. So, childhood obesity causes pain in the back, hips or knees.
Fatty liver disease
Due to obesity fat deposits on the liver and causes fatty liver disease. It can damage or disfigure the liver in children.
The risk of gallstones increases due to obesity. Gallstones are rock deposits which develop in the gallbladder.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux (Heartburn)
Obesity causes gastro-oesophageal reflux or heartburn. It is a condition in which more acid is synthesis in the stomach which causes heartburn or regurgitation.
Social and emotional problems
Obese children may face teasing, stigma or bullying by their fellows. Due to this, they can lose their confidence or self-esteem which increases the risk of psychological problems like stress, anxiety or depression.
Future Health Risks
Mostly childhood obesity leads to adulthood obesity which increases the risk of many diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Treatment and prevention of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity can be treated by changing lifestyle and medications.
Diet plays an important role in maintaining weight. If a child eats unhealthy foods like fast foods, candies and sugary drinks then the risk of obesity increases. So, for decreasing the risk and treatment of obesity your child’s diet should be healthy which includes fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs and milk.
Eating pattern or habits are important for maintaining a healthy weight. If your children eat excess food many times in a day without a proper pattern then it can increase the daily calories intake. Due to increase calories intake obesity occurs. So, you should develop an eating pattern or habits in your children for maintaining weight.
Physical activity level
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity. So, you should make your child physically active and boost their interest in sports, walk, running or many other exercises. All of these activities help in losing and maintaining weight.
Medication is also available for treating childhood obesity but it only recommended or prescribed by a physician under specific conditions.
Surgery is the last option for removing fat from the obese children if your child is not able to lose weight with lifestyle changes, healthy diet, exercise and medication.
In modern time, childhood obesity is a common disease in all over the world. It occurs when the children have more weight relevant to their age and height. Due to obesity children face many health issues. The main reason for childhood obesity is an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, overeating, genetic factors, and psychological problems like stress, anxiety and depression. Several medicines also contribute to increasing a child’s weight.
Obesity in children causes many health issues like cardiovascular disease (heart attack, heart failure or strokes), diabetes type 2, breathing problems, joint pain, fatty liver disease, gallstones, gastro-oesophageal reflux or heartburn.
Childhood obesity treated or prevented by maintaining a healthy diet, eating habits, physical activities like walk, running and exercise. If obesity is not treated by lifestyle changes than medicines or surgery will be recommended by physicians.