Childhood Obesity: Causes, Consequences, and Management
Obesity in children is defined as a body mass index of 95th or above the same age and sex. BIM in children and teenagers is specific for age and sex, which is therefore referred to as BIM-for-age. The accumulation of too much weight in the body that can cause health problems is obesity. For a child to be healthy, their height and weight should change in a proportionate ratio as the child develops or grows. An individual's weight in Kilograms and their height in meters are used to calculate the person's BIM. The consumption of wrong foods and inadequate or no physical exercise exposes children to risks of being obese.
However, the possible causes of obesity in children are factors that relate to genetics, physical exercises, unhealthy eating programs, or medical conditions related to hormones. The inheritance of obesity from family members is associated with how active the members are and their eating behaviors (Gurnani, Birken, & Hamilton, 2015). The idle time spends by an average child on watching television and video games. In the United States, 10 per cent of children at the age of four and five are obese, with girls having the most significant numbers affected. At least one among five children at the age of 6-11 are obese. Furthermore, the case of obese children has increased by up to 50percent in the last decade.
Nutritious foods for children will reduce overweight cases among the children. A low-fat, balanced diet is a great way to give children a good feeding program. The importance of eating a balanced diet comprised of whole grain, proteins, fruits and vegetables should be taught to children by their caregivers. Get the children up and out to play, engage them in active activities to burn off excess calories. Since the children's body is still developing, parents should not put children into weight loss programs. Weight loss restricts the minerals, energy, and essential vitamins they need for good growth and development. Weight loss programs in children are done under the supervision of a pediatrician. Parents should emphasize having a proper feeding habit in children.
Keeping stock of healthy foods is essential and being a fit role model to children. Children will always eat what is in stock. Stocking junk and telling children not to eat is tricky because it will require full-time supervision—such foods containing a lot of sugar, such as soda, add up many calories (Lanigan, Tee, & Brandreth, 2019). Parents should be creative in the activities that they engage their children in to reduce boredom. Introduce new games such as skipping ropes, playing soccer, swimming, among other games that the children will enjoy.
Physical exercise is associated with reducing weight regain and the development of conditions related to metabolism and orthopedic. Being overweight also is related to gait pattern modification, decreased movement and reduced energy used in different activities.
The viewing of screen media has increased children and adolescents' chances of being obese because they spend time eating while watching. Most of the foods consumed while watching are, most of the time, high in calories, low in nutrients and drinks. Obesity is ranked as the best result of media exposure (McCrindle, 2015). A random control of the time spend on-screen has shown a significant reduction in children's weight gain. However, interactive media to improve feeding habits and physical exercise has helped reduce weight gain among children. Obesity is an immense challenge in public health in both developed and developing countries.
Media screen has replaced the physical activities, increasing the time spent on eating while reducing sleeping time. The parents are either ignorant of the risks associated with being obese or are not aware of the other health conditions exposed to their children. These conditions include; increased levels of cholesterol in the body and high chances of high blood pressure. Obesity is also known to the risk of glucose intolerance, insulin resistance by the body and increased cases of development of diabetes type 2- Sleep apnea and asthma, muscle and skeletal discomfort, heartburn, fatty liver disease, among other conditions. Children who suffer from obesity are likely to be bullied at school and on social media (Simmonds, Llewellyn, Owen, & Woolacott, 2016). Being bullied has a significant effect on the self-esteem of the child. If the parents are not carefully observing the behavior of the child, the child might fall into depression and anxiety. An obese population among children means an unhealthy population during their adult life.
Parents do not classify their children as overweight; they rather misclassify their children's weight. The misclassification, therefore, shows that parents are not aware of the signs of obesity in children. In other religions and communities, children who have average weight are thought to be very skinny, and they are sometimes confused with being malnutrition. The obese children, on the other hand, are seen perceived to be healthy because they look big. In General, parents should introduce their children to physical activities while they are young to reduce the chances of dealing with obesity in life.
Gurnani, M., Birken, C., & Hamilton, J. (2015). Childhood obesity: causes, consequences, and management. Pediatric Clinics, 62(4), 821-840.
Lanigan, J., Tee, L., & Brandreth, R. (2019). Childhood obesity. Medicine, 47(3), 190-194.
McCrindle, B. W. (2015). Cardiovascular consequences of childhood obesity. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 31(2), 124-130.
Simmonds, M., Llewellyn, A., Owen, C. G., & Woolacott, N. (2016). Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews, 17(2), 95-107.