Childhood obesity, a rising concern today
Bengaluru: Paediatric or childhood obesity is the most predominant nutritional disorder among children and adolescents worldwide. India is witnessing 14.4 million obese children every year with abdominal obesity. Obesity leads to the risk of heart diseases in children and adults. It is a serious medical ailment that affects children and adolescents. It's especially alarming in light of the fact that because of the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once considered adult problems — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, said, Dr. Harish Kumar, Consultant - Paediatrics and Paediatric Intensive Care, Aster CMI Hospital.
Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression. Currently, obesity in children is a major health concern. Dr. Harish said, "Not all children carrying extra pounds are overweight. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the different transformative phases. So you might not know by how your child looks if weight is a health concern. The body mass index (BMI), is an accepted measure of overweight according to stature, acknowledged proportion of overweight and heftiness. A doctor can use growth charts, the BMI and, if necessary, other tests to figure out if the weight can lead to other health problems. Sedentary lifestyle is the main cause for obesity. As parents we tend to give our child whatever he/she seeks starting from drink to junk food. Food and drinks are the main contributor for this. However, genetic and hormonal factors also play a role."
There are many risk factors for overweight and obesity. Some of the factors include intake of high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, preserved food can cause children to gain weight. High sugar added food like chocolates, desserts, aerated beverages also leads to weight gain; lack of exercise; a person with a history of overweight or obesity; psychological factors (stress, emotional eating); and taking certain medicines/drugs which increase the risk of developing obesity in children. And, some people sometimes prefer frozen meals, added preservatives, cookies which don't spoil quickly which further leads to weight gain.
"There are certain physical complications of childhood obesity which includes type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint pain, fatty liver. As a parent, it is very important to take special care of your child who have obesity as he/she may experience teasing or bullying by their peers. This can result in a loss of self-esteem and an increased risk of depression and anxiety," said Dr. Harish.
As the saying "prevention is better than cure" this holds true in medicine. Dr Harish pointed out that one can prevent the onset of many lifestyle diseases if proper care is given. In the prevention of childhood obesity, one must encourage the children to eat healthy diet and do regular physical activity as a family affair. Drinking plenty of water and fruits is also mandatory. Always prioritize home food which includes air-popped popcorn without butter, fruits with low-fat yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital. Ensure your child get enough sleep. Some studies indicate that too little sleep may increase the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to increased appetite. And lastly, seek doctor's advice. Visit to a doctor is advisable once year. During this visit, the doctor measures your child's height and weight and calculates his or her BMI. A significant increase in BMI percentile rank indicates the child is at risk of becoming overweight.