A serious medical condition that affects adolescents and children is what Childhood obesity means. It is a condition when a child weighs quite more than his normal weight what he actually should be in his age and height. It becomes a matter of concern because these extra pounds pave a way for various kinds of health problems that only adults used to suffer from. It can also lead to troubles like depression and poor self-esteem. The best way to get from this problem is eating a healthy diet and exercising. Attending to this problem right on time is necessary.
Warning Signs of Childhood Obesity
Though not every child that has extra pounds is obese as some children have a large body frame. With children carrying various body fats during different development stages, it is not easy detection of obesity is not an easy thing. You can do so with the help of a growth chart or your doctor can help you out. Nevertheless if you feel that your child gaining a lot of weight, then you can visit your kid’s doctor. He may indulge into a number of tests to determine whether your concern is right or not.
Causes and Risk factors
Following are the causes and the risk factors that may lead to the problem of excess weight in a child:
Lack of physical activity– Kids who do not get involved in various kinds of activities are more likely to suffer from a weight gain because he may not burn calories Playing video games and watching too much TV can prove to be harmful.
Diet– Consuming fast food, high-calorie food can lead to weight gain. Along with this, high-level of sugary items such as soft drinks, ice creams, desserts and candy can also amount to weight gain.
Genetics– If the family history of the child is full of people who overweight people, then it may also happen because of his genes that he may also suffer from excess weight, if he eats fatty food and not much active physically.
Psychological factors– There are some children who tend to overeat when they are facing any kind of emotional problems, stress or to avoid boredom. It is quite possible that their parents also have similar kind of inclination.
Family factors– It is the responsibility of the parents that they stock healthy food in the kitchen and keep away unhealthy food like chips, cookies, instant noodles etc. In this manner, the child’s access to fatty food or sugary items till go down.
Socioeconomic factors-There is a possibility that children from low-income background are also prone to obesity. Parents from low income group might not have time to instill healthy eating and exercising in their kids.
Children suffering obesity are quite prone to various kinds of serious health problems, which generally adults suffer from. Children who are overweight are at higher risk of developing the following:
- Cardiovascular Diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Liver disease
- Asthma and other respiratory problems
- Early puberty
- Skin infections
- Metabolic syndrome
- Bone and Joints Problem
- Many Types of Cancer
Being obese can also have social as well as emotional fall outs leading to:
Behavioral and learning problems – There is a lot of possibility that overweight children may have problems like anxiety and poor social skills in comparison to kids with normal-weight. This can result in two extreme conditions- one may either act out too loud or can result in complete social withdrawal. All this can also hamper with learning.
Low self-esteem– Overweight children are often bullied and teased by other children and thus they suffer from low self-esteem, resulting in depression.
Depression– Social isolation and low self-esteem create overwhelming feelings of hopelessness in some overweight children. When children lose hope that their lives will improve, they’re well on the way to depression. A depressed child may lose interest in normal activities, sleep more than usual, or cry a lot. Some depressed children hide their sadness and appear emotionally flat instead. Either way, depression is as serious in children as in adults.
As a part of routine child care, the doctor calculates the body mass index (BMI) of the child and decides where does the child’s falls on the national BMI-for-age growth chart. This will help him in determining whether the child is overweight or not. By using the growth chart, the doctor tells the percentile of the child, that is where does your child stands in comparison with other children of his age and sex.
The basic cut-off points on these growth charts helps the doctor in deciding children who are overweight and obese:
Overweight children– BMI-for-age between 85th and 94th percentiles
Obese children– BMI-for-age 95th percentile or above
As BMI does not include things like a broad frame of the child or his heavy muscular mass because the pattern of growth is different in different children, thus the doctor brings the growth and development of your child into consideration. This helps the doctor whether there are any weight concerns or not.
Following are the other considerations by the doctor:
- The eating habits of the child
- The family history related to obesity and other problems related to weight-gain like diabetes
- The physical activity of your child
- Other health conditions of the child, if any
There can be certain blood tests as well, such as:
- Blood sugar test
- Cholesterol test
- Blood tests to check for any hormone imbalance affecting the weight of the child
There are some tests that may need the child not to eat or drink anything at least 8 hours before the test, the doctor will inform you about all this.