Childhood Obesity: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Childhood Obesity
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Childhood obesity can be termed as a severe condition that targets adolescents and children. Children who are overweight are above the regular weight for their height and age.

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Childhood obesity is exceptionally unpleasant because the excess pounds that children gain often start them on the path to health complications that were usually considered adult problems — high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Several obese children end up becoming overweight adults and near-inevitable if one or both parents are also obese. Children suffering from obesity can also suffer from depression and low self-esteem.

The easiest way to minimize childhood obesity is to maintain a healthy diet plan and cultivate an effective workout plan. The early prevention and treatment of childhood obesity is an excellent way to improve your child’s health.

Symptoms

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Studies have shown that not all kids with extra pounds are obese or overweight. Some of them have larger than average body frames. Also, children carry varying amounts of body fat at different levels of development.

This might make it hard to tell if your child is overweight and if the weight might pose a health concern.

Thankfully, the BMI (body mass index) is the acceptable standard for measuring the weight of a person in relation to their height when trying to determine obesity and overweight.

The BMI, growth charts, and other tests, if necessary, may be used by your child’s doctor to accurately determine if your child may have any health issues due to their weight.

Seeing a doctor

You should discuss with your doctor immediately if you’re concerned about your child’s weight. Your doctor would access your child’s growth history, the history of your family’s weight-for-height, and where your child fits in on the growth charts.

This method is useful in determining if your child’s overall weight may pose a health risk.

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Causes

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An unhealthy lifestyle — minimal physical activities and too many calories from drinks and food — can significantly contribute to obesity in children. Furthermore, hormonal and genetic factors can also play a significant role, as well.

A recent update has discovered that fluctuation in digestive hormones can interfere with the signals that let you know when to stop eating.

Risk factors

Several factors can increase a child’s chances of becoming obese or overweight, and some of them include the following:

Diet

Frequently eating foods that are rich in calories, such as baked goods, fast foods, vending machine snacks, and many more, can cause children to gain excess weight. This also includes sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods.

Family factors

There is a high chance that your child might suffer from obesity if they come from a family that is overweight. This is particularly true in cases where foods rich in calories are always available.

Lack of exercise

Children that do not engage in physical exercise are more likely to become overweight. Other sedentary activities such as playing video games and watching TV may also contribute to a health complication.

Socio-economic factors

Several people in many communities do not have access to needed resources. As a result, they must settle for products that do not perish quickly, and some of them include cookies, crackers, and frozen meals. People living in lower-income environments might not have access to conducive places to workout.

Psychological factors

Family, parental, and personal stress can elevate a child’s chance of being obese. Many children resolve to overeat as a way of dealing with emotional issues that can include anxiety, depression, or boredom.

Treatment

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Treating childhood obesity solely depends on your child’s age and potential medical conditions. The treatment method usually includes changes in your child’s physical activity level and eating habits.

In some situations, the treatment options might consist of weight-loss surgery or special medications.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) proposed that children who are infants or older than 2 and are overweight should be put on a weight-maintenance plan to help slow down weight gain.

This approach allows the affected child to add a few more inches in height while burning off excess weight. The program also allows that child’s BMI to drop into a healthier range.

Medications

Doctors might prescribe medication for some adolescents to include a general weight-loss plan. It is still unknown what the risks of long-term use of prescription medications are, and the effects of medicines on weight maintenance and weight loss for children is still in question.

Weight-loss surgery

Surgery is an option for adolescents with severely obese conditions, especially those who find it challenging to lose despite numerous lifestyle changes.

Nevertheless, like any surgical procedure, we can’t ignore the potential risks and long-term complexities. It would be best if you met with your child’s doctor to discuss the possible pros and cons of the surgery before anything.

Your child’s doctor might suggest surgery if your kid’s weight poses a higher health risk than.

An obese child that is due for surgery must be examined by a team of pediatric specialists, including dietitians, psychologists, and pediatric endocrinologist.

Parents need to understand that weight-loss surgery is not a cure and should be aware of the potential risk. They also need to follow the steps to manage their child’s health after the procedure, which includes a healthy diet, regular physical activities, and more.

Parents who have children who are obese and are between the ages of 6-11 should endeavor to adjust their eating habits.

This would be helpful in gradually reducing their weight to nothing less than 0.5 kilograms (or about 1 pound) each month. In severe cases, the children may be required to adjust their eating habits to lose up to 1 kilogram (2 pounds) each week.

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The methods parents use in maintaining their children’s weight should be the same, and this includes increasing physical activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and controlling food portions.

It’s been noticed that success depends significantly on how committed parents are in making sure their kids make these changes.

Either your child has a healthy weight or is currently becoming overweight, specific steps can be taken to control and ensure things are normal. Some of these steps include:

  • Minimizing your child’s sugar consumption
  • Maintain portion sizes that are suitable for your child’s age
  • Provide plenty of vegetables and fruits
  • Eat meals together as a family and avoid your kids eating extra if it’s unnecessary
  • Minimize eating out, particularly at fast-food joints
  • Ensure that your child gets proper sleep
  • Minimize screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children above 2 years old and no screen time for children younger than 2 years old

Parents should also ensure that their children visit their doctors for general checkups at least once every year.

Your children’s medical doctor would measure the height & weight of your child, and this would include calculating your child’s BMI.

An elevation in your child’s BMI over one year is an indication that they are at the risk of becoming overweight.

Does any of your children suffer from obesity? If yes, what measures have you taken to ensure they are in a good healthy condition? Kindly share it with us in the comments below. Also include tips and suggestions on how best to control the condition easily.

Childhood Obesity
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Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.
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