Childhood obesity is a concerning health-related issue across the globe. In the US alone, every one out of five children and teens is diagnosed with obesity.
While some children may get more influenced than others, all children risk gaining weight higher than the normal weight range.
If you want to know about childhood obesity’s health effects and how to prevent them, keep reading this article.
Also, you can use some of the growth charts from CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to estimate the BMI of the children.
Indeed, young individuals having a BMI from 5th to 85th percentile have a healthy weight.
Also, children who have a percentile higher than 85 and up to 94th percentile are overweight.
It results from these considerations that the obese category starts above the 95th percentile for this population.
Childhood Obesity Causes
Childhood obesity happens when a child’s weight has a significant difference from their height and age.
Some of the causes of excessive weight gain in children are similar to those in adults. They include genetics and behavior.
Also, the community influences the dietary habits and choices of a child.
Environments that don’t truly support healthy habits can make physical activity and healthy dietary choices challenging.
Besides, schools, childcare centers, and other places can influence activity and diet through food items and beverages.
Other factors that help determine how a community gets designed include social support, healthy dietary choices, promotion, advertising, and different policies.
Unfortenately, the overall prevalence of obesity in young children and teens is relatively high.
Risk Factors of Childhood Obesity
A lot of multifactorial agents work together to elevate your child’s risk of getting obese. You can find some of them below:
Frequent consumption of high-caloric foods like baked goods, fast foods, and ready snacks can elevate your child’s risk of gaining more weight.
Indeed, desserts and candies may result in more weight gain. Also, Beverages that include sports drinks and fruit juices increase obesity in some individuals.
Children who don’t perform much exercise are likelier to gain more weight as they cannot burn many calories.
Also, a lot of time in sedentary activities like playing games on mobile or watching TV contributes.
If your family has a history of obesity, you may also gain weight quickly. It becomes especially true when the diet factor is there, and you also live a sedentary lifestyle.
Stress is one of the causes of obesity. A child undergoing parental stress or personal issues is at an increased risk of becoming obese.
Often children do overeating to deal with their emotions or to get rid of stress or boredom.
People being in communities come with limited access and resources towards supermarkets.
Resultantly, they may get their hands on convenience foods that don’t rot too quickly, including cookies and frozen meals.
Also, lower-income families have limited access to specialized places for doing exercise.
Medications of specific chemical configuration come with the side effect of weight gain in children.
Indeed, children on medications like lithium, prednisone, paroxetine, amitriptyline, gabapentin, and propranolol have a high risk of developing obesity.
Prevalence of Childhood Obesity
A study conducted in 2018 has shown that children aged from 2 to 19 had a total prevalence of 19.3%, totaling 14.4 million young population.
As for the children of two to five years old, the prevalence was 13.4%. Those from six to eleven years of age had a majority of 20.3%.
According to the study, teens from twelve to nineteen years of age had a prevalence of 21.2% obesity.
Overall Effects of Obesity
Obesity in children has a lot of negative impacts on the body in various ways. Children having obesity are much likelier to have the following cases:
- High cholesterol and blood pressure that can cause cardiovascular disease.
- An elevated risk of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and diabetes.
- Problems related to breathing including sleep apnea and asthma.
- Issues of the joint and discomfort in muscles and bones.
- GERD, gallstones, and fatty liver disease.
- What’s more, childhood obesity also has links with depression and anxiety.
- Low quality of life and decreased self-esteem.
- Social issues including stigma and bullying.
In addition, children with obesity have an increased risk of sustaining obesity throughout adulthood.
This situation can lead to several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
In a few words, if children come with obesity, their risk factors for disease in adulthood may get higher in intensity.
Long Term Effects of Childhood Obesity
Child obesity results in long-term complications in the emotional, social, and physical wellbeing of the child.
Some of the long-term physical effects of childhood obesity include:
Pediatric diabetes is common in children with obesity. Indeed, weight gain induces glucose intolerance or insulin resistance in children, leading to this chronic condition.
Also, a sedentary lifestyle may elevate the overall risk of diabetes.
Hypertension and Hypercholesterolemia
Poor dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle in overweight and obese children can also lead to hypertension and high cholesterol.
The above factors play a role in developing plaques in the blood vessels. The arteries get hard and narrow, leading to stroke and heart attack at some point in life.
Asthma is prevalent in children who have excessive weight. The children are likelier to develop conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, which affects a child’s breathing during sleep.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may lead to liver damage and scarring. However, the disorder comes with no symptoms and causes different fatty deposits for building up in the liver.
Emotional and Behavioral Complications
Children having obesity might face bullying by their fellows.; they can develop low self-esteem. Also, you might see some psychological effects of childhood obesity.
High weight gain may cause excessive stress on the knees and hips. Indeed, child obesity may result in pain and injuries in the back, knees, and hips.
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The Prevention of Childhood Obesity
Prevention is the first line of defense against chronic conditions such as obesity.
Ensure to take note of the things that help in controlling excess weight gain in children.
In such a way, you will control the incidence of this chronic condition. There are several ways for preventing obesity, but they can vary culturally and area-wise.
However, some guidelines apply to all conditions whatsoever.
For preventing obesity in children and young adults, you can take the following actions:
Be a Role Model
Healthy eating for a child starts with you. When you make healthy dietary choices, your child follows your footstep and abstain from poor items.
In addition, if you exercise regularly, your child will also realize that physical activities are an essential component of daily life.
Have some healthy snacks around you. Some options involve popcorn with no butter, vegetable sticks with hummus, fruits mixed in low-fat yogurt, and more.
Indeed, it will help if you include nutrient-dense, wholesome, and organic snacks in your day to avoid excess calorie consumption.
Introduce New Foods Often
Persist on introducing different vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome items to your child multiple times.
If the child doesn’t like getting a portion of new food, try exposing it repetitively to gain acceptance.
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Select Non-food Reward
Don’t go for candies or any other edible item as a positive reward to your kids.
Doing so can cause your child to crave unhealthy or excessive caloric foods, resulting in excess weight gain.
Instead of going for food as a reward, go for material items like books, etc.
Be Careful About Their Sleep
Children undergoing sleep deprivation have a high risk of developing obesity.
Sleeping for too little may increase the risk of hormonal imbalance that often results in an elevated appetite.
As a result, it may be that craving and binging become frequent, which causes obesity in children and adolescents.
Go for Medical Checkup
Going to a doctor for a thorough medical checkup at least once a year helps check the weight.
The doctor will record your child’s anthropometric measurements that help in calculating the BMI of your child.
Indeed, a high percentile rank of BMI for an extended period indicates that your child has an increased risk of getting obese.
These are some preventative measures against obesity. Ensure to take note of the possible factors associated with having excess weight.
For more information, you can consult your health professional, who may guide you in the prevention of childhood obesity.
The Final Words
Childhood obesity is a health issue of growing concern across the globe.
Several factors like sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits, genetics, and poor sleep quality lead to excess body weight in children and adolescents.
Ensure always to pay attention to preventable factors to pave a healthy BMI for children and adolescents.
Thank you for reading this article about childhood obesity’s health effects and how to prevent them.
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