Understanding why & how to respond to childhood obesity

Dr. Atish Laddad
Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder & Director at Docterz

A full-cheeked baby or the chubby thighs of your little munchkin manages to make the baby look cuter. But parents must make note that this adorable baby fat if ignored may turn into a major health issue for your toddler. Childhood obesity cannot just be limited to be a cosmetic problem, but it is a real health issue that can be related to a significant problem in children and in adulthood too. Various researches conducted state that currently, about one out of four children and teens in developing countries are plump or obese. Those additional pounds put kids at danger for falling prey to grave health snags that include unwanted heart ailments, juvenile diabetes, and asthma to name a few. Additionally, pediatric obesity also takes an emotional toll. Children who are overweight usually have distress keeping up with other kids and refrain from joining in sports and other activities. They may always be at the receiving end with other children teasing and bullying them, thus this will majorly lower their confidence and self-esteem, will create a negative body image and they may also fall trap to depression at a very early age. Hence it is prudent for parents and guardians of overweight young children to immediately seek expert advice to understand why their child is overweight and take remedial measures.

Comprehending Childhood Obesity

When babies are born, they have moderately more fat; though, this is considered to be quite normal and appropriate. This comparatively greater amount of fat offers the baby with some nutritious reserve when they are most susceptible and are adapting to life outside the mother’s womb. This greater quantity of fat drops as the infant starts growing older and all through the first several years of life. As the baby reaches five years of age, he or she will have the lowermost amount of fat and will have the lowest body mass index (BMI) – an association between body weight and height. If you notice that your child seems to get heavy and overweight between 2 and 5 years of age, there is something wrong and this fat should not be confused with baby fat. Similarly, post 5 years of age, a child who is overweight should not be treated as if it is only “baby fat”, you have a cause to worry since this condition needs immediate medical intervention. The sooner parents make positive changes in the child’s lifestyle with regards to optimum nutrition and physical activity, the easier it is for them in later stages.

What causes your baby to become overweight?

Comprehending the causes that lead to the development of weight problem in children, is a very vital step towards breaking the cycle. In most cases, obesity in childhood is instigated by too much consumption of food and too little or no physical activity. Children indeed require enough and nourishing edibles to upkeep a healthy growth and development, but when they intake more number of calories than they burn during the day, the outcome is weight gain. Some underlying reasons behind childhood obesity are less cooking at home due to busy family life, thus ending up eating out more often. Fluctuations in the living environment like the way we live, eat and act is the main feature that has led to the present problem. There have been various nutritive modifications that have emerged over the last twenty to thirty years which have led to obesity not just in kids but also in adults. One chief factor is the regularity at which people eat food outside. While you eat out, you unknowingly tend to consume a larger food quantity and calories that at home. Outside food has more amount of unwanted fats than home-cooked food. Binging over high-calorie, junk, and packaged foods also lead to steady weight gain in the kid, no control over the child’s food portion but outside as well as in-home and consumption of a sugar-rich diet to name a few.

Another chief aspect of contributing to juvenile obesity is the augmented inactive lifestyle that children these days follow. Children going to school spend most of their day in school where their only activity is during break time or in physical training classes. Even outside school, the kids these days tend to live a very sedentary lifestyle due to increased time spent watching TV, playing video games and increased screen time.

Health Perils due to Obesity: Being over-weight brings with it a host of health ailments which include, insulin resistance, hypertension in kids, liver issues and hyperlipidemia (raised levels of cholesterol or triglyceride). Other difficulties that can occur comprise of joint pains, problems in the menstrual cycle, gallbladder illness and sleep apnoea.

Treating Obesity in kids: The first steps taken towards treating childhood obesity should be directed at the family without just limiting it to the kid. This is very vital because the home environment and support received from family are significant factors when trying to address pediatric obesity. If the child is the only one making alterations in their life, they are less probable to be fruitful, parents should follow suit. Parents who do not make healthier lifestyle modifications are likely to weaken the child’s weight loss efforts. Treating for weight loss in obese kids is not just accomplished by dieting. You require to tackle numerous facets of the child’s and the family’s lifestyle, nourishment and patterns of physical activity. If you feel your baby is overweight or is at a close threat for becoming obese, you should work with your child health expert who will help you develop an individualized plan of care that will integrate appropriate action steps.

The next time you witness your child struggling to lose weight, there is so much you can do to help your kid. Identifying weight issues and obesity in children as early as possible can decrease their possibility of developing serious medical conditions as they get older. Parents should work as a team to break the cycle of weight issues, this will enhance your children’s physical and psychological health, and will facilitate them to create a healthy association with food that will last a lifespan. Whatever maybe your children’s weight, you must then know that you love them unconditionally and that all you want to do is aid them to be healthy and content.

Inputs by Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder & Director at Docterz

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