Health Problems Linked with Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has become a growing epidemic for which parents and schools are to blame. Obese children are more likely to face medical and psychological implications, if obesity is left untreated.
This article was shared by Ms. Komal Malik, Senior Dietician, Delhi based Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute.
The causes of obesity in children are multi-factorial and are listed below.
Genetic Make up:
Obesity results from the interaction of an individual’s genetic make up with the environment in which the person lives, as mentioned in ‘Understanding Childhood Obesity’ by J. Clinton Smith. Behaviour andmetabolism are two factors that affect an individual’s weight; both can be influenced by genetic factors or by cultural and environmental factors.
According to National Assembly of Wales, ‘Maintenance of a healthy, balanced diet during childhood and early adolescence is extremely important for development and maintenance of proper weight and general well-being.’ Dietary intake contributes directly to energy consumed and its change over time, which possibly contributes to the rise in childhood obesity.
Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle are major contributors to obesity. Low physical activity in children may also be associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Sedentary behaviour includes activities that do not involve physical activity and could include activities such as watching TV and playing on the computer or video games. Higher exposure to advertisements may also result in children choosing more energy-dense nutrient-poor foods.
Parent Child Relationship:
Parents do exert some control over how their children learn to prefer healthy foods and regulate food intake. Dietary factors during the infancy stages of child development set the stage for future obesity.
Health problems associated with obesity:
Type 2 diabetes: A condition in which the body either makes too little insulin or can not properly use the insulin it makes, leading to elevated blood glucose levels.
Eating disorders such as bulimia or binge eating
Orthopaedic disorders – problems with foot structure
Liver problems including fatty liver
Respiratory disorders such as blocked airways and restrictions in the chest wall, which cause breathlessness during exercise.
Sleep apnea: this is a condition that causes difficulty in breathing when sleeping. It also causes snoring, waking often and poor sleep that leads to poor concentration.
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