What is obesity in children?
When your child’s weight exceeds what is considered healthy for their age and height, they may develop childhood obesity, a complicated illness. A child is considered obese medically if their body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 95th percentile on the growth charts. Adult BMI factors are not the same for children. Because children’s body compositions change as they get older, BMI is specific to both age and gender. Additionally, there are differences between children born assigned as males and those born assigned as females.
By dividing your child’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared (kg/m2), you can determine their BMI. For example, if your ten-year-old child is 56 inches (1.4 m) tall and weighs 102 pounds (46.2 kg), their BMI would be 23.6 kg/m2. They are considered obese since their BMI is in the 95th percentile for their age.
Healthcare professionals measure children’s sizes and growth patterns using BMI-for-age growth charts. High body fat may be indicated by a high BMI. BMI is not a direct indicator of body fat. However, it informs your
child’s doctor that additional testing may be necessary to determine whether your child’s excess fat is a concern.
BMI percentile cutoffs identify a range above which there may be an increased risk of weight-related health problems for your child.
There are many issues associated with Obesity. Physical, social, and emotional problems in children are frequently brought on by childhood obesity.
Among the physical effects of childhood obesity are:
- Diabetes type 2 This long-term illness has an impact on how your child’s body utilizes glucose or sugar. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who are obese and lead sedentary lifestyles.
- Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. One or both of these conditions may develop in your child as a result of a poor diet. These elements may play a part in the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, which may narrow and harden the arteries and eventually cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Pain in the joints. Excess weight puts additional strain on the knees and hips. Obesity in children can lead to hip, knee, and back pain, as well as injuries.
- Breathing difficulties. Childhood asthma is more common in overweight children. Additionally, obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition in which a child’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts while they sleep, is more likely to develop in these kids.
- Disease of the nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). The disorder leads to the accumulation of fatty deposits in the liver and usually has no symptoms. Liver damage and scarring can result from NAFLD.
Emotional and social complexities
Youngsters who are obese may be teased or bullied by their classmates. This may lead to a decline in self-worth and a higher chance of experiencing anxiety and depression. While it is true that some overweight children may feel good about themselves, be popular with their peers, and have a lot of confidence compared to their slimmer friends, they may also be more likely to experience low self-esteem. Their lack of confidence may impact their academic performance since their low self-esteem may make them feel self-conscious about their appearance. They might be subjected to taunting, bullying, and insults. They might find it difficult to make new friends and risk being rejected by their old ones. They might be the last teams selected in physical education classes.
While using electronic media and watching a lot of television have led to sedentary lifestyles, other environmental factors have decreased opportunities for physical activity. In recent times, there have been fewer opportunities and safe spaces for physical activity. In the past, most kids used to walk or ride their bikes to school. According to a 2002 study, 53% of parents took their kids to school in their cars. Because their homes were too far away from the school, 66% of these parents said they drove their kids there. Parents also stated that they drove their kids to school because there was no kid-safe walking route, they were afraid of child predators, or it was just more convenient for the kids. Kids who don’t have access to secure, well-lit walking routes or who reside in dangerous neighborhoods have fewer opportunities to engage in physical activity.
Obesity development has also been found to be influenced by sociocultural factors. Food is frequently used in our society as a social tool, a reward, and a way to exert control over others. These food-related behaviors raise the possibility of obesity by fostering the formation of unhealthy food relationships.
The rise in obesity cases has also been linked to family factors. Children’s food choices can be influenced by the kinds of food kept in the home and by family members’ dietary preferences. Family mealtimes can also have an impact on the kinds and quantities of food eaten. Last but not least, a child is influenced by the physical and sedentary habits of their family. Research has indicated a connection between childhood obesity and overweight in children and living in a home with a single parent and an overweight mother.
Anxiety and despair According to a recent review, most studies find a prospective link between depression and eating disorders. However, the relationship between depression and obesity is not one-way; depression can also be a cause of obesity. Furthermore, compared to non-obese controls, a greater lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders was found in a clinical sample of obese adolescents. Even so, some research shows no conclusive link between elevated BMI and elevated symptoms of anxiety. Therefore, it’s possible that there is more than one way to relate obesity and anxiety, and this relationship is far from definitive.
Mixed results have been found when comparing the self-esteem of overweight or obese children with that of appropriate-weight children. While some children who are obese do not have low self-esteem, other studies have found the opposite.
The literature appears to agree that children who are overweight or obese are not as vulnerable in the social and physical domains of self-esteem as they appear to be, making the global approach to measuring self-esteem misleading.
The Health Hazards of Childhood Obesity
Compared to their peers who maintain a healthy weight, children who are obese are more likely to experience health issues. Among the most dangerous conditions are diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
A person with type 2 diabetes has improper glucose metabolism in their body. Diabetes can cause kidney dysfunction, nerve damage, and eye disease. Overweight individuals have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in both children and adults. On the other hand, dietary and lifestyle modifications might be able to reverse the illness.
Children who are obese have a higher chance of developing heart disease in the future due to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Foods heavy in fat and salt have the potential to raise blood pressure and cholesterol. Heart disease can lead to two potential complications: heart attack and stroke.
Chronic lung inflammation is known as asthma. Although the exact mechanism underlying the two conditions’ relationship is unknown, obesity and asthma are the most common comorbidities (two diseases that affect the same person at the same time).
The same study discovered that while not all obese individuals have more severe asthma, some may be at risk for it.
In comparison to people who are at a healthy weight, those who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience sleep issues. Your body mass index (BMI) is deemed overweight if it is between 25 and 29. Obese individuals have BMIs of 30 or greater.
For a variety of reasons, being overweight or obese may make it difficult for you to get the sleep you require. First of all, excess body fat may affect metabolism and sleep-wake cycles, according to experts. Furthermore, having too much body fat can strain your neck, particularly when you’re lying down. An increase in soft tissue in the airways in certain overweight individuals can result in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Obesity has a major negative influence on joint health and can cause joint aches in multiple ways. First, being overweight puts an excessive amount of mechanical stress on joints that support weight, such as the knees and hips, which can cause chronic pain and discomfort. Second, obesity is associated with chronic inflammation, which exacerbates joint pain by damaging joint tissues and exacerbating conditions like osteoarthritis. Third, the metabolic alterations linked to obesity, such as insulin resistance and modified lipid profiles, raise the possibility of osteoarthritis development and the deterioration of joint cartilage. Additionally, abnormal joint mechanics and alignment brought on by obesity can raise the risk of pain and injury. Obesity-related limited mobility can exacerbate discomfort by causing joint stiffness and muscle weakness.
Furthermore, the psychological effects of obesity, such as depression and a lower quality of life, can make joint pains seem more intense. People who are obese should seek medical advice, change to a healthier lifestyle, and think about weight management techniques to lessen these effects. These actions are essential for lessening joint stress and enhancing general joint health.
How to prevent gaining excessive weight or becoming obese?
To assist your child in avoiding gaining too much weight, you can:
Lead by example.
Make regular exercise and a healthy diet a family affair. Everyone will gain, and nobody will experience discrimination.
Keep healthy snacks in hand.
Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, baby carrots with hummus, fruits with low-fat yogurt, and air-popped popcorn without butter are some of the options.
Present novel dishes several times.
Try not to lose hope if your child takes some time to warm up to a new food. A food typically needs to be experienced several times before it is accepted.
Select non-food rewards.
It’s never a good idea to promise candy or any other sort of treat for good behavior or good grades. You must never encourage such behavior in kids as then this gets developed and they would ask for a treat on every accomplishment.
Make sure your kids get adequate rest. According to certain research, getting too little sleep may make obesity more likely. Hormonal imbalances brought on by sleep deprivation can increase appetite.
Following are a few of the frequently asked questions-
What does “childhood overweight” mean to you? Does that mean “obesity in childhood”?
A: These phrases frequently have the same meaning. The phrase “childhood obesity” is more frequently used in media, radio, and newspapers. However, the official clinical term for childhood obesity is overweight. Clinically speaking, a child under the age of eighteen is considered overweight if their body mass index (BMI) is higher than the 95th percentile for that age and gender. When referring to a general condition, we use the term obesity, and when using medical terminology or referencing data, we use the term overweight.
What can I do about my child’s obesity? It worries me.
- It can be quite challenging to have a conversation with children about weight, but it’s critical to understand how they feel about their bodies. Provide a good example, avoid focusing too much on a child’s weight without also encouraging healthy daily habits, and modify the child’s surroundings to potentially encourage healthy behaviors. For additional information on the kinds of healthy daily behaviors that can result in weight control, contact our doctor.
When is it appropriate for parents to worry about their child’s weight?
- Based on the child’s growth curve, body mass index (BMI), and advice from medical professionals, concerns regarding their weight should be directed. Consult a pediatrician about any abrupt or notable changes in growth or weight.
What part does genetics play in the obesity of children?
A child’s genetic predisposition to obesity can be influenced, but environmental and lifestyle factors also have a big impact. It’s crucial to remember that a child’s destiny is not determined by their genes; instead, genetic predispositions can be managed with the aid of good habits.
What kind of support can parents give to an obese child?
Parents can help their children by setting an example of good behavior, preparing wholesome meals, promoting physical activity, and consulting dietitians or medical professionals for advice.
Can obesity in children be treated?
It is possible to treat childhood obesity. A medical team can design a personalized plan that involves eating adjustments, more exercise, and, in certain situations, medication or behavioral therapy.