Why is childhood obesity a major health problem?
The percentage of children with obesity is increasing worldwide. One in four Canadian and one in three U.S. children are reported to be obese. Children with obesity can face severe psycho-social and medical problems. A child is overweight if his body mass index (BMI) is above the 85th centile and obese if BMI is above 95th centile for age and sex.
What are the psycho-social problems which obese children can face?
Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more often than their normal weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and low self-esteem. The effects of this can last into adulthood.
What are the medical problems that obese children are likely to face?
Children with obesity are at higher risk for developing several chronic health conditions and diseases. These include breathing problems like asthma and sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They are at greater risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems. They are also more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems.
How can parents prevent obesity in children?
Obesity can be prevented by maintaining a balance between the intake of calories and their expenditure. Once a child is diagnosed obese, then parents should aim for a negative balance so that the child loses weight.
How can parents ensure a balanced intake of calories?
Parents can balance the calories consumed from foods and beverages with the calories that the child uses through physical activity and normal growth. We should always remember that the goal for children who are overweight is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children should not be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.
How can parents help children develop healthy eating habits?
Parents can encourage children to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. Children can be taught to be aware of what they eat, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations.
To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water; limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
- Look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier.
- Remove calorie-rich temptations like junk food that contain high-fat, high-sugar, or salt. Instead only allow your children to eat them occasionally, so that they truly will be treats.
How can exercise help children?
Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time. In addition to being fun for children, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including strengthening of bones, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem and helping in weight management.
What activities can children do to burn down the calories?
Children should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day. As children tend to imitate adults, adults should set an example but adding physical activity to their own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include brisk walking, playing tag, skipping rope, playing soccer, swimming, dancing etc.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although some quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.
About the Doctor:
Dr. Srinivas Jakka,
Consultant Paediatrician, pulmonology and allergy specialist
MD (Paediatrics), MRCPCH (UK), diploma in allergy (UK)
Dr. Srinivas Jakka is an experienced Paediatrician, Pulmonologist and Allergy Specialist. He completed his training in India and world renowned hospitals in UK. He has vast experience in the management of children with complex pediatric problems, asthma, complex respiratory diseases and allergies.
About The Hospital:
Ankura is a chain of Children’s Hospital in Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.