Childhood Obesity - Not To Be Taken Carelessly
What is Childhood Obesity ?
The beginning of at least 30 percent of adult obesity is in childhood. It is 50-80 percent of childhood obesity that leads to adult obesity. Strong predictors of adult obesity are adolescence weight and changes of BMI (Body Mass Index) during adolescence. It is important to take good care of their nutrition by avoiding the consumption of junk food and eat in a healthy and sensible manner.
Childhood Obesity Definition : WHO defines obesity as a condition where there is abnormal/excessive accumulation of fat in adipose (fatty) tissue, to the limit that it leads to health impairment. It is when the energy input exceeds energy expenditure that obesity occurs. So it has become necessary to prevent obesity and obesity related complications.
Body fat and height is reasonably correlated with body weight. Weight adjusted for height squared- BMI-is an internationally accepted calculation of overweight and obesity. For the same amount of body weight, South East Asians carry 3-5 percent more fat content as opposed to the Western population. International obesity Task Force (IOTF) has set different cut offs to define obesity and overweight for both population.
Childhood Obesity Prevention Guides
How To Calculate Your Child's BMI
- Weigh Your Child
- Measure Your Child
- Calculate BMI
BMI = [weight / (height x height)] x 703
Effects of Childhood Obesity
Recent data suggests that 20 percent of children are obese. Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes(high blood sugar), hypertension(high blood pressure), dyslipidemias (high cholesterol levels),heart disease and stroke, some types of cancer, sleep apnea (when breathing stops for short periods during sleep), osteoarthritis(wearing away of the joints),reduces bone mineral density, gallbladder and liver disease. It can cause increased body hair, irregular menstrual periods and infertility in women.
Factors predicting future overweight and obesity
- Parental overweight
- Lower socioeconomic status
- Low physical activity
- Low metabolic rate
- Heavy babies
- Childhood overweight
- Multiple births & growth retardation within mother’s womb.
Overweight and later obesity occur when there is imbalance between calorie intake and output. Poor fitness levels, eating habits including increased consumption of high calorie fast food and current lifestyle are all contributing factors.
Body Mass Index Table
Weight Status Category
Less than the 5th percentile
5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
85th to less than the 95th percentile
Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile
Childhood Obesity Causes Poll
What is Main Cause of Childhood ObesitySee results without voting
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Our exercise patterns have changed completely now. Earlier we used to fetch water from well, clean and mop the house, wash clothes indoors and outdoors, walk for long distances and play outside the house. But now we have electricity to draw water from the water tank, maids to clean and mop the house and washing machines to help with washing. Now transportation facilities are also available at the door step and so there is no need of walking longer distances. Children now have many devices to play and so they don’t get time to play outside. All the above mentioned activities facilitate overweight and obesity.
Mistaken food choices
Traditional micronutrient rich complex carbohydrate diet has now been replaced with energy dense, highly processed, micronutrient poor food substances, also consumed in very large quantities. People have become more vulnerable to high calorie diet due to the fast food craze on pizza, burger, French fries, ice cream, soft drinks, sweets and chocolates. Food rewards and eating outside are a part of new life style.
Increased screen time
Now children tend to spend more time on TV watching video games, internet gazing, playing on mobile phones. This collectively called screen time. They also find time for telephone gossip. The duration of screen time is increasing day by day. TV is also an important media for marketing calorie dense items to children and adolescents.
Insufficient play areas
Unsafe roads, crime and traffic are discouraging children and adolescents from walking to schools or colleges. Motorized vehicles are presumed to be a safer and quicker means of transport. Exercise is projected as punishment. Another exercise limiting factor is the lack of parental time to supervise children play outside due to financial constraints.
Obesogenic schools and tuition classes
Strong competition has forced children and adolescents to use their play time for additional studies. Physical education classes are either restricted or even non exist in many schools. There are no playgrounds in some schools.
Tipping the Scales- A Documentary on Childhood Obesity
How To Prevent Childhood Obesity
In order to reduce the burden and cost of obesity in society, prevention must begin in childhood. For effective prevention to occur, public health approach and measures have to be in place. The whole family and indeed the whole society must be targeted for future health. Decreased sedentary time, lifestyle modification on nutrition and exercise is the way forward.
Foot paths, adequate availability of play area and crystal tracks in the immediate vicinity must be ensured. WHO recommends moderate to vigorous physical activities for at least one hour a day for all children and adolescents. Exercising for at least one hour together must be made a routine by all family members. Quality time at weekends should be spent going on long walks, parks, hill stations etc.
Teachers should be properly trained at nutrition activity and life style issues. Annual monitoring of BMI along with height and weight should be mandatory as part of annual school health checkups.
Rather than dieting more emphasis should be made on nutrition. Long term benefits such as sports and better performance in academics are possible by eating the right foods. Breakfast is the most essential meal of the day and should not be avoided. Plenty of water should be consumed and substituted for soft drinks. Fruits and vegetables should be consumed every day. People should avoid food as rewards, frequent snacking; restrict eating outside and celebrating with food and drinks. Most of the fast foods are known to contain additives and preservatives which are toxins and carcinogens. Try to consume at least one meal of the day together with all the family members by avoiding reading books, watching TV or listening to music.
Possibility of Quick Fix for Obesity
According to a study the world’s first anti-obesity vaccine has shown promising results in boosting weight loss. Keith Haffer from Braasch Biotech LLC, South Dakota, who developed the vaccine in two versions JH17 and JH18, derived from a peptide hormone somatostatin, tested them in two groups of diet with a group of mice that received saline injections. Somatostatin inhibits the action of growth factor, both of which increase metabolism and result in weight loss.
Mice in all groups had been fed a high fat diet for eight weeks prior to the study and continued to eat the same food for the duration of the six week study. The vaccinations were administered twice at the start of the study followed by a booster vaccination on day 22. Four days after the first injection of modified somatostatin, the vaccinated mice had a 10 percent drop in body weight. This study demonstrates the possibility of treating obesity with vaccination.
Childhood obesity is an issue that is to be taken very seriously. Many factors that lead to obesity and the practical solutions to it have been mentioned in the hub . The possibility of a quick solution to this problem has also been included in the hub .
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