Childhood obesity is on a rise not only in the Indian population but also in the world population. Childhood obesity is a term that refers to children who are higher than the ideal weight of their age. This condition occurs when they consume extra calories that do not get spent. Childhood obesity is assessed through the utilization of a body mass index (BMI) percentile, which calculates the weight in proportion to height. BMI serves as a measurement to determine the level of obesity in children.
What are the common symptoms that indicate childhood obesity?
Usually children with obesity show visible signs, they include:
Changes in appearance:
Visible presence of stretch marks on the hips and abdomen, along with the occurrence of dark, velvety skin (referred to as acanthosis nigricans) around the neck and other regions, can be observed. Additionally, there may be an accumulation of fatty tissue in the breast area, which can be a particularly concerning matter for boys.
Affected self-esteem, and experiencing eating disorders.
Trouble breathing especially while performing any physical activity.
Constipation and acid reflux
Reproductive health signs:
Few children may experience early puberty and a few many experience delayed puberty.
What are the top 10 causes that can lead to childhood obesity?
Unhealthy Diet: Consuming high-calorie, sugary, and processed foods regularly contributes to weight gain. These foods are often low in nutritional value and lead to an excessive calorie intake.
Lack of Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles, such as spending excessive time on screens and a lack of regular exercise, can lead to weight gain. Physical activity helps burn calories and maintains a healthy body weight.
Genetics: Some children may have a genetic predisposition to obesity, making them more susceptible to gaining weight. Genetic factors can influence metabolism and fat storage in the body.
Family Habits: Children often adopt the eating and physical activity habits of their families, so unhealthy family routines can impact a child’s weight. Poor eating patterns and lack of exercise among family members may influence the child’s behavior.
Socioeconomic Factors: Low-income families may have limited access to healthy food options and recreational facilities, promoting a higher risk of obesity. Healthy foods can be more expensive, and living in neighborhoods with limited resources may restrict opportunities for physical activity.
Emotional Eating: Children might resort to using food as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, boredom, or other emotional triggers. This can lead to overeating and the consumption of comfort foods, often high in calories and unhealthy fats.
Lack of Sleep: Poor sleep patterns have been associated with weight gain and obesity in children. Insufficient sleep may disrupt hormonal balances that regulate appetite and lead to overeating.
Television: Aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods and sugary beverages can influence children’s eating habits. Constant exposure to appealing advertisements may encourage the consumption of unhealthy foods.
Stress and Mental Health: Childhood obesity may be linked to stress, anxiety, and depression, leading to changes in eating patterns. When facing emotional distress, individuals may engage in overeating or turn to comfort foods.
Environment: Living in neighborhoods without safe spaces to play or walk, limited access to parks, and excessive exposure to fast-food outlets can contribute to obesity. A lack of opportunities for physical activity and the presence of fast-food options can make it harder for children to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, children dealing with obesity can seek overweight treatment in coimbatore to overcome this condition.
How to know if a child is at risk for obesity?
There are several factors that can determine a child’s risk for developing obesity. Few factors include:
- Monitoring your child’s BMI percentile annually to detect any abrupt rise.
- Identifying infants who experience rapid weight gain during infancy; research indicates that these babies are more susceptible to developing overweight issues as they grow older.
- Considering birth weight and gestational diabetes as potential factors that could raise a child’s risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.
- Taking into account the family history of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, sleep apnea, and early heart attack as potential risk factors for the child’s health.
What problems may arise if childhood obesity is not treated on time?
The majority of health issues linked to obesity typically manifest during adulthood, but early indicators of these problems are often evident in children.
Possible health concerns for overweight children comprise:
- Eating disorders like binge eating
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver disorders
- Trouble breathing like snoring
What are the tips that help in the prevention of childhood obesity?
The World Health Organization has issued a warning about childhood obesity evolving into a public health concern. Given the significant increase in cases, it is of utmost importance to take essential measures to prevent obesity in children. Here are some strategies recommended by the pediatric endocrinologist to achieve this goal:
- Opt for a nutritious breakfast containing fiber and protein to sustain the child’s energy levels throughout the day.
- Encourage frequent, smaller meals instead of large ones to facilitate easier digestion.
- Implement portion control to avoid overeating, and consider using compartmentalized plates to aid in adhering to appropriate serving sizes.
- Create well-balanced meals by incorporating all essential food groups in appropriate proportions.
- Reduce screen time and discourage using electronic devices while eating to prevent distractions during meals.
- Limit the intake of sugary foods and beverages, encouraging consumption of natural sugar sources instead.
- Encourage regular physical activity, such as engaging in daily sports, to prevent obesity and promote overall fitness and flexibility.
Childhood obesity has been on rise in recent times and is continuing to grow in children. As children are not aware of what to eat and what to avoid, it’s the parents responsibility to ensure what the child eats is healthy and has a healthy lifestyle. Reach out to the best pediatric endocrinology hospital to get your child checked for any risk factors of obesity.