Childhood Obesity is a severe health risk for young children with numerous long-term consequences. They are at high risk for a variety of chronic health issues that can negatively impact their mental and physical well-being. Obesity can develop in very young children. Teaching children appropriate dietary and lifestyle habits from a young age is one of the most effective ways for reducing obesity cases. It is also important to recognise that not all overweight children are obese, since some children have larger-than-average body frames at various phases of development, which they may lose and gain depending on their growth. Experts suggest that if one is still unsure whether the child is fat or not, it is better to get the advice and diagnosis of a doctor.
Dr. Asmita Mahajan, Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, explains the causes of childhood obesity and possible solutions.
What Causes Obesity In Children?
Obesity in children can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which are beyond your control. Lifestyle choices, psychological issues, and family history are just a few examples. Children born into an obese family are more likely to be obese themselves. Obesity is caused by a lack of exercise and overeating, including processed foods.
A poor diet that contains high levels of sugar and fat with no nutritional value can cause children to gain weight quickly, and some of the main culprits include fast food, candies & soft drinks.
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Childhood Obesity?
Obese children are more likely to acquire numerous health problems than their peers who maintain a healthy weight that is appropriate for their height and age. Diabetes, heart disease, and asthma are among the major conditions they are at risk for.
• Nervous System– Obesity dramatically increases the risk of stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. According to research, overweight individuals are at two times higher risk of suffering a Stroke, as excess weight places a lot of stress on your heart and affects the blood flow
• Respiratory System– Fat stored around the neck can cause the airways to become too small, making breathing difficult, especially during the night. If left untreated, it can result in Sleep Apnea, which can even lead to death. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is quite common in patients who also suffer from Obesity and can also affect young children
• Cardiovascular & Endocrine System– A healthy heart is essential for the well-being of a person. When a person suffers from Obesity, the heart needs to work extra hard to pump blood to the various organs, which in turn can cause high blood pressure or Hypertension. Additionally, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of Stroke, so having a healthy weight is essential for all age groups
How To Reduce The Chances Of Obesity In Children?
Because young children and teenagers' bodies are not fully matured, weight loss through surgery or drugs is not the best approach. Obese children should not be put on a diet unless a doctor approves it, as a restricted diet may not provide adequate energy and minerals for growth and development. Following are some pointers to help obese youngsters achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
• Focus on good health and not on reaching a particular weight. It is essential to teach and model a healthy attitude towards food and physical activity without emphasising body weight. When too much focus is given to weight, it can lead to a negative outlook towards food and diet, which can then result in food-related disorders that can harm a person’s mental and physical well-being.
• It is essential to focus on the family and not isolate overweight children, as it can lead to depression and loneliness. That is why the whole family must work together to improve their physical activity and eating habits.
• Parents should give healthy snacks to their children at specific times. Combining two food groups, like some fruit wedges and whole-grain crackers, is an excellent idea. Please don’t give them packaged items like fruit juices and candies, as they have significantly less nutritional value.
• Encourage physical activity in children of all ages. A good idea is to set aside time every day with all family members where everyone participates in physical activities like walks, bike rides, hikes, and active games.
Childhood obesity is a severe problem that must be addressed extensively and deliberately because it has long-term consequences. With the right education and assistance, children can learn healthy ways to deal with difficulties, prepare meals, and stay active in order to avoid obesity. Adults who play important roles in the lives of children, such as parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caregivers, must provide this assistance.
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