Within the modern world, obesity has become one of the most common reasons for reduced life expectancy. Over the past decade, childhood obesity rates have significantly increased all over the world. Medical specialists suggest that this growing epidemic should be perceived as a public health concern as it is rapidly spreading and has tremendous consequences. Being overweight increases the risks of early death, type 2 diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and many other serious health problems. Moreover, childhood obesity can interfere with the healthy development of children. The long-term consequences may lead to an increased risk of being overweight or obese as an adult, psychosocial disabilities, and life-threatening medical conditions.
What is childhood obesity?
Obesity is a serious medical condition that is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which may affect the health of an individual. Childhood obesity specifically refers to overweight children and teenagers. Obesity is measured considering the body mass index for age often referred to as BMI. The method is used to calculate a child’s weight category based on their age and BMI. Therefore, an unhealthy weight can be determined in children who are above the normal weight for their age and height. It is often caused by the imbalance between calorie intake and calories utilized.
Although parents do not perceive that the fact that their child is more robust than normal as a threat, in fact, it can cause health problems that were once considered to be health conditions associated with seniority. Each child may experience different symptoms that can alert parents that their child may suffer from obesity. Yet, the most common symptoms include appearance changes such as fatty tissue deposition, eating disorders, shortness of breath, or sleep apnea.
Causes of the rising prevalence of obesity
There are many causes of why a child may become obese. Genetic or medical factors may play an important role in childhood obesity. However, in most cases, children become overweight due to external factors and a sedentary lifestyle. Here are the main risk factors increasing the possibility of a child to become overweight:
Lack of physical activity
One of the main causes of childhood obesity is the lack of physical activity. Children who are eating too much or too unhealthily but are not exercising enough develop unhealthy weights. Not exercising leads to the fact that not enough calories are burnt leading to weight gaining. Unfortunately, in the modern world, the lack of physical activity of their children is a challenge for many parents. The technological advancements such as the internet and various electronic devices have increased the time spent by kids in sedentary activities. Watching television or playing video games on their smartphones have become the main activities preferred by children.
Unhealthy eating habits are another main risk factor that increases the risk of childhood obesity. Eating high-calorie foods such as fast foods, baked goods, or snacks can cause gain weight. Poor nutrition habits are often a matter of poor education from their parents. Candies and desserts, sugary drinks, and fast-foods are culprits in obesity. The busy lifestyle of parents encourages them to offer their kids unhealthy foods as they can be cooked faster or ordered from food catering services. However, little they know how much this affects the health of their young ones.
It is a horrible though to think that the problem of childhood obesity can also be triggered by the parents themselves. The way kids are raised can be one of the causes that lead to obesity. Unhealthy nutrition habits promoted by the parents in early ages, the misleading perception of robust kids as healthier ones, and the lack of encouragement for practicing sports and physical activities all create a wrong base of habits that increase the risk of childhood obesity.
The consequences of childhood obesity
Physical, psychological, and social health problems are caused by childhood obesity. The main consequences of childhood obesity are the risks of developing several life-threatening medical issues. Medical problems such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and even reproductive problems can be caused by obesity if parents do not help their kids prevent or overcome it. Unfortunately, childhood obesity may also lead to psychological teasing and abuse from the peers of the child triggering low self-esteem and even depression. Bullying can lead to psychosocial disabilities including social isolation and depression.
How to prevent and overcome obesity in children?
One of the main ways to prevent or overcome obesity in children is to balance their calorie intake. Parents need to help their children learn to be aware of what they eat and how their diet can affect their health. Children should be guided in developing healthy eating habits which they will later follow as adults as well. Getting obesity under control is just as important to a child’s future success as anything else. However, children should not be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a medical specialist. Weight reduction diets, without specialized medical advice, can interfere with the normal growth and development of the child.
Secondly, kids need to be encouraged and helped to stay active. Regular physical activity has many health benefits, especially for kids who are still in the process of development. Although it may seem difficult to get them moving, parents can find fun activities that will encourage kids to be physically active. For example, performance trampolines are the ideal place that can make kids exercise while having fun and perceive it as play time. Also, parents should reduce the sedentary time spent by their kids by controlling how much time they spend with their electronic devices. Involving them in fun activities with their family members can be a great way for bonding and keeping kids active.
Childhood obesity is a matter of lifestyle issues. Unhealthy habits can lead to tremendous consequences. It is a serious medical condition that creates a path to various health and psychosocial problems that will affect their entire life.