Childhood Obesity and Related Health Problems
Approximately 16 percent of the American children aged 12 to 19 are overweight, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital statistics show. In 1965, only five percent of the youngsters in this age group were overweight.
The sad statistics continue. About 15.3 percent of the children aged six to 11 are overweight.
The Department of Health and Aging in Australia carried out its own troubling research. Results show that 1.5 million people aged under 18 are overweight. Statistics show similar results in other countries.
Child obesity is a serious problem bringing about various related health risks and hazards. To deal with it, learn more about the causes of child obesity and the health problems that result from it.
What causes childhood obesity?
Various factors today contribute to the higher percentages of obese children. Youngsters spend increasing amounts of their time in front of the TV or the computer screen. Several years ago, children preferred playing football and hide-and-seek instead of spending hours in the virtual reality.
Poor eating habits and overeating contribute to the problem, as well. Many children are used to fast food and the luring toys that come alongside the child meals.
In some cases, genetic reasons and eating disorders can be blamed for the growing obesity figures. Yet, in most instances parents are to blame for encouraging inactivity and bad eating habits.
Child obesity results in various other medical conditions. The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Children’s Hospital published a report summarizing the most commonly observed problems.
According to Science Daily, childhood obesity has been linked to asthma. Medics tested the respiratory functions of children aged eight to 10. Each child was tested after exercising.
Children who had higher percentage of body fat experienced a phenomenon known as exercise-induced asthma. The situation was even worse for children who were overweight and physically inactive.
Type 2 diabetes
The risk of type 2 diabetes development is higher in the case of obese children.
According to some research carried out in the US, one in three US children born in 2000 will develop diabetes.
Until recently, mostly adults were diagnosed with this type of diabetes but it is now affecting children as young as 10 or 12.
Unfortunately, heart problems have started affecting young individuals, as well. Many children suffer from atherosclerosis or the hardening of arteries due to the presence of excessive amounts of fat.
The American Heart Association (AHA) presented its own study that reveals the high risk of heart disease development among overweight children.
“These findings are potentially consistent with predictions that obesity and its complications would result in cardiovascular disease becoming a pediatric illness,” said Dr. David Ludwig, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard as quoted by New York Times.
Menstrual and puberty problems
Childhood obesity can cause some problems during puberty, when the body is changing and getting ready for its reproductive functions.
Obesity in girls has been linked to menstruation irregularities. Overweight children are also believed to reach puberty very early. Obesity is seen as the cause of early puberty in both girls and boys.
The problem stems from the fact that children are emotionally unprepared for the changes that come with puberty, especially if the process starts too early (at the age of eight or nine).
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of several conditions among which high blood pressure, insulin resistance, decrease in HDL (good) cholesterol and higher triglyceride levels. Metabolic syndrome is connected to heart problems and diabetes development.
Studies show that 25 to 40 percent of overweight children will sooner or later develop metabolic syndrome.
Helping children deal with the problem
Parents often find it difficult to deal with the problem, since a solution often involves lifestyle changes that a child may feel uncomfortable with.
To help your child, introduce change in the form of a game. Provide awards for each accomplishment. Set realistic small goals instead of trying to introduce drastic changes.
Try to get your children involved in sports and extracurricular activities. Children should spend as much time as possible outside their rooms. Go for walks, buy a dog and teach your child to take the pet to the park. Organize family hiking trips and bike rides.
Food should be used solely to provide the body with energy. Forget about comfort meals and midnight snacks. You may also need to change your diet. If your child is to get used to change, you might as well modify the diet of all family members.