Childhood obesity is a condition where body fat exceeds its limit and negatively affects a child's health and growth pattern. It can be determined by calculating the BMI (Body Mass Index), which varies with sex and age. Children have fewer problems than adults, related to weight and other health or medical issues but overweight children are at 80% higher risk of becoming overweight adults, which will lead them to chronic diseases later in life, such as heart diseases, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Childhood obesity is specifically troublesome because the additional pounds often begin health problems in childhood, which were once restricted to adults, for example high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. Obesity in children can also induce pressure and poor self-esteem.
One of the leading strategies to lower the rate of obesity in children is to ameliorate the exercise habits and diet of the whole family. Preventing and treating obesity in children helps in keeping the health of the child safe now and in the time ahead.
Causes and Effects of Childhood Obesity:
Obesity occurs when person takes up more calories than his body burns. There are several genetic, biological, behavioral, and cultural factors behind the children becoming overweight. If one parent is overweight, there is more than 50% chance of children being obese. In addition, if both parents are obese, chance increases to 80%. Certain medical disorders can cause obesity, whereas less than 1% is being caused by physical problems. Child’s daily routine and diet determines his weight. Today, kids spend a lot of time being inactive, average children spend 4 to 5 hours watching television daily. Increasing popularity of computer and video games has added more hours of hypo activity to this routine. It is associated with high risk of emotional problems, such as low self-esteem and depression. Their fellows and peers make fun of them being fat, resulting into a great loss of confidence and despondent lack of activity, which affects their personal life as well as academic career. They prefer to stay alone in isolation, do not interact with their age fellows, which push them to a state of depression where they become rude and irritated. This psychological state badly damages their mental growth and hinders all those neurological developments, which are necessary to make a child, normal and well-mannered human being .
Besides, there are also some of the hormonal factors, which play a role as well. Children with genetic predisposition of the disease are more likely to be obese than the children who eat more. Latest research has shown that modifications in digestive hormones can influence the signals, which let you that know your stomach is full. Children with no exercise routines, become ‘couch potato’, and if they are forced to exert pressure on their bodies, they get osteoarthritis or breathing problems such as asthma. They get trouble while sleeping as snoring or choking because the lungs cannot bear the pressure and has to respire faster. Children love to eat sweet products like candies and chocolates, parents use food as reward. An example of this is completing homework on time or for good grades. This makes them addicted to such rewards and get irritated if not so. Behavioral changes take place with age and this factor can have a major effect on intellectual upbringing as well.
Prevention and Treatment:
Parents have a major role in making their child healthy or obese. First point is they should allow their child to now that they would be supportive. If there are chances of genetic obesity, they should keep the BMI of their child under observation from the age of 2.If exceeds the required limit, precautionary measures should be taken immediately to control it. Their lifestyle should be planned accordingly, such as more physical activity like exercise, yoga, cycling.
Diet should include healthy food like vegetable salads, beans, fruits etc. Junk food should be totally eliminated and avoid giving them too much sweeteners. It not only makes them fat but also damages their teeth severely. With the help of physician, a diet plan you be designed which include all the elements necessary for the growth of a healthy mind and body. Regular checkups should be done, monitoring their growth as per their body size.
Parents should give special attention to the child and do not discourage him for being fat as it is not his fault at all. School can also play a vital role in it; teachers and instructors should try to establish a friendly link between the children so that the obese child does not feel left out. They encourage them to participate in class equally and give importance to their views in order to boost up their self-esteem and confidence. This will make their attitude towards life more positive by interacting with fellows, playing with them, and taking part in different activities.
Other siblings and family members should be supportive. They all should sit together and talk to each other, sharing problems and tensions will remove differences and help to come closer to resolve issues. They can act as a lead; children have nature of copying others especially their elders. They want to do what others are doing, so indulge in activities, which involve physical interaction, and this will automatically urge him to follow you.
Child will feel more self-assured rather than being discriminated and separated. Even while discussing their weight issues when they are grown up, avoid being too rude or depressed, this will demoralize them. Make them understand that this is not the end of the world, obesity is not their weakness and it should not hinder their way of living, just a little change in lifestyle is required and one day everything will be fine. As they are in the stage where important developments are taking place in their life, physically as well as intellectually. Therefore, they need extra attention at this point to overcome the weaknesses and to handle the problems. If they are being helped properly, this will not only give them strength to stand against their obesity but also against all those problems being faced in society. In addition, when they will defeat it later, it will boost up their personality, leading to a life perfectly stable and healthy both physically as well as morally.
In short, obesity is no doubt a big issue and it should be avoided in every possible way but if you are overweight or anyone in your family, being supportive is, the first rule because if you are contended to fight against it, you will defiantly beat it one day. However, the damage done to mind and intellect cannot be reversed. So in order to keep you and your children sound, you all should work together as team because this is an equally linked to physical as well as mental health.
Anderson, P. M., & Butcher, K. F. (2006). Childhood Obesity: Trends and Potential Causes. The Future of Children, 16(1), 19-45.