Childhood obesity has become one of the major health concerns in developed countries all over the world. In fact in last few decades, the ratio of overweight children has doubled. Obesity is now considered a modern day disease and it has both short and long term implications on the health. The problems are not only related to physical aspect, but it also affects the psychological sphere.
Obese children are at greater risk of suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and joint pain in later years of their life. While in a short term they may have issues related to their self esteem. Parental neglect, lack of physical activity and change in food habits all together have played vital role in development of childhood obesity.
In majority of cases childhood obesity is preventable disease. Parental care, healthy eating habits and encouraging the child for physical activity will help to maintain the child’s weight at its optimum.
What Causes Obesity In Childhood?
A person whether a child or an adult is said to be overweight when his weight is more than 20% required for a specific height.
Although hormonal imbalance, certain medical disease and hereditary factors are known causes of obesity in children, in most cases excess body weight is due to following factors:
- Dietary pattern: Children nowadays eat more fast foods, cakes and pastries, more sugary and carb food. All these foods increase their calorie intake, but at the same time there is very less nutritional value in this food.
- Reduced physical activity: Children have become more sedentary since few decades. It is because of watching television, playing video games and use of computer. They avoid playing outdoor games. Watching television encourages the child to snack more which contributes in intake of more calories.
- Parental neglect: Many parents give least importance to obesity. They give their child foods that are rich source of carbohydrate and fats when the child demands. Children eating too much of cakes and pastries, fast foods etc are prone to become obese. Parents do not encourage their child to play outdoor sports such as swimming, cycling etc.
- Social and psychological effect: Children like adults tend to eat more when they are stressed or depressed.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions are also responsible for childhood obesity. A child suffering from hypothyroidism and other hormonal disorders have tendency to grow overweight.
- Lack of sleep: Children who sleep for lesser hours are known to have excess of weight.
How Can Parents Prevent Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity in majority of cases can be prevented.
- Breast feeding the child during infancy is known to reduce obesity as the child grows up.
- Encourage the child to eat healthy food which has high nutritional value. Include in his diet grains, vegetables, lean meat, and low fat dairy products.
- Avoid over feeding the baby during infancy.
- Do not make a habit of giving cakes and pastries, chocolates and other confectioneries as and when the child demands.
- Do not allow the child to watch television or play video games all the time sitting at home. Encourage the child to play outdoor sports. It helps to burn calories.
- In order to make the child do all this, you have to be the role model. You have to cultivate eating healthy food and exercise daily. This will encourage the child to adopt your lifestyle.