The development of a child involves a lot of things. As a responsible parent, the health of the child should be of utmost importance. There are various aspects of health, some of which are beyond the control of the parent while others are directly controlled by the parent. In this work, we consider such conditions as obesity and the parent’s responsibility in ensuring that the child develops without such conditions.
Obesity is one of the serious health concerns. Due to its rising occurrence in children, serious and urgent solutions have been a point of concern.
Obesity is a condition that results from excess body fats. When in excess, the body fats react negatively, affecting the well being of the child. Diagnosis of this condition is based on Body Mass Index (BMI). The children suffering from obesity (the obese children) are often referred to as overweight children.
Obesity at the childhood stage comes as a result of the failure of the self regulatory system of the body to transform the influence of the environment (lifestyle and nutrition), to that of the genetic background of the child. In the complex genetic environment interactions, several factors that cause obesity generally encourage long term positive energy balances. The likely ultimate cause of obesity is the modest chronic energy balance. Using the current methods that measure the energy intake and expenditure, is it becomes very difficult to detect this balance. Changes in the nutrition and lifestyle (environment) are the core factors resulting in obesity. This is because, the gene pool only changes in a generation and it is not possible for it to change in less than a generation.
Children suffering from obesity experience weight problems (overweight). This may result in psychological problems like depression. Such children may also experience social problems. The social problems include isolation since the other children might see this situation as abnormal and as a disorder. Isolations may be responsible for acceleration of the conditions of obesity through psychological problems that results in overeating and lack of enough physical activities.
In a normal situation, the overweight children are faced with challenges which include discrimination and bias. As this increases, more serious consequences also emerge. They include orthopedic problems, hyperandrogenism, and obstructive sleep apnea. In some cases, cardiovascular disease has been identified as being linked to obesity. Childhood obesity may result in very serious life-menacing conditions. The conditions include cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, sleep problems, early puberty, liver diseases. Eating disorders also result. They include skin infections, anorexia and bulimia, respiratory disorders and asthma among others. Overweight children have the risk of becoming obese adults. Also, children suffering from obesity have high chances of having increased mortality rates in their adult stage.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity at the childhood results from several factors. The core factor is the dietary which accounts for well over fifty percent of the overweight cases. It is however very difficult to determine the effects of dietary (eating habits) on childhood obesity. Children’s meals always contain a lot of calories. These meals are very much available. They include drinks which in most cases parents assume their effects. High consumption of sugar also results in obesity at the childhood stage. Numerous snacks that are rich in calories are also readily available for children. This makes it possible for the children to access such snacks without knowing the side effects. Some institutions have provided regulations on these snacks. The use of Vending machines in places like school settings has been reduced by strict laws.
At the age of one to two years, the recommended meal is the whole milk. At this age, whole milk consumption has no effects on weight, fat percentage of the body and the height. It means that whole milk consumption at the above age cannot translate into obesity.
The most common problem that parents do is the substitution of this milk with some sweet drinks. These drinks highly lead to obese conditions like excess weight.
Another common cause of obesity is the lifestyle. A child who lacks enough physical activities is most likely to suffer from obesity as compared to a physically active child. A child must therefore engage in regular physical activities so as to be on the safer side of obesity. A child who is inactive physical has higher chances of becoming a physically inactive adult. Lack of enough physical activities on the sides of children may be attributed to stationary activities which include watching TV and playing computer games.
Genetically, childhood overweight is a direct result of various contributions of both genetic and environmental factors.
Gene polymorphism that controls metabolism and appetite exposes individuals to obesity in the presence of enough calories. Obesity can be owed to some genetic conditions that are present in childhood. They include Melanocortin receptor mutations, Leptin receptor mutations, MOMO syndrome, prader-Willi syndrome, and congenital Leptin receptor deficiency.
Home factors are also responsible for propelling obesity conditions in children. Family meals affect the choice of meals for children. A family meal with high fat content results into obesity conditions for children. It is also true that children raised by their grandparents have higher cases of obesity.
Development factors like breastfeeding also have a great contribution in the life of the child. A child who is breastfed has lower chances of becoming obese. The duration of breastfeeding dictates the chances of obese conditions. The two are inversely proportional. This implies that a child who is breastfed for long time duration has slim chances of becoming obese as compared to the counterpart who is breastfed for a shorter time period.
Obese conditions also result from the condition of the child at birth. Fat babies at birth are more likely to be obese as compared to normal babies.
Another likely cause is medical illness. Diseases like Cushing’s syndrome directly contribute to childhood obesity. This is a condition where the cortisol content of the body is in excess.
Just like any other disease, proper management of obesity is necessary. Parents are advised to breastfeed the newborns. This is very crucial for its nutritional values and for protection against obesity in later stages of child development. Currently, there are no approved medications for the treatment of obesity in children. However, sibutramine and orlistat are used to manage the disease in adolescents.