Childhood obesity is a condition in which a child’s health or well-being is harmed by excess body fat. Because it is difficult to determine body fat directly, BMI is frequently used to diagnose obesity. Obesity in children is becoming more common, and its numerous negative health consequences are being recognised as a serious public health concern. When discussing childhood obesity, the term overweight rather than obese is frequently used, especially in open debate, because it is less stigmatising. It is well known that the prevalence of childhood obesity varies by gender and sex.
Childhood Obesity – Classification
For children aged two and up, the body mass index (BMI) is an accepted method of evaluating obesity. It is determined by the weight-to-height ratio. The normal BMI range for children varies depending on their age and gender. While a BMI larger than or equal to the 95th percentile is considered obesity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI greater than or equal to the 85th percentile is defined as overweight. It has produced tables that can be used to determine this in children.
However, according to the US Preventive Service Task Force, not all children with a high BMI need to reduce weight. Although a high BMI can indicate a potential weight problem, it can not distinguish between fat and lean tissue. Furthermore, BMI may incorrectly rule out certain children who have adipose tissue excess. As a result, additional screening measures such as adipose tissue or skinfold measurements can help to improve the accuracy of a BMI diagnosis.
Childhood Obesity – Causes
Childhood obesity is caused by a variety of factors, many of which work in concert. The medical name for this mix of ingredients is “obesogenic environment.” The highest risk factor for child obesity is both parents’ obesity. This could be related to the family’s environment and heredity. Other influences could include psychological problems and the child’s body type.
Causes of Childhood Obesity are –
- Obesity in children is frequently the result of a complex interaction of hereditary and environmental variables.
- Family habits have evolved dramatically in recent decades, and several of these practices play a substantial role in childhood obesity
- As technology, such as television and video games, keeps children indoors, they are less likely to go outside and engage in active play.
- More school-aged children are transported to school by their parents, rather than walking or biking to a bus stop or directly to the school. This reduces physical activity.
- Obesity rates among children are linked to advertisements for unhealthy foods. In some countries, advertising of candy, cereal, and fast-food restaurants on children’s television channels is prohibited or restricted. The media defends itself by criticizing parents for giving in to their children’s dietary demands.
- Young people from racial or ethnic minorities, as well as those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds, are considerably more likely to be overweight and engage in less healthful habits and sedentary activities.
Childhood Obesity – Prevention
Schools can help prevent childhood obesity by providing a secure and supportive atmosphere, as well as rules and procedures that encourage healthy habits. Parents can help their children avoid being overweight at home by modifying how the family eats and exercises. Healthy eating, physical activity, and obesity prevention methods used in childcare settings such as preschools, nurseries, daycare, and kindergarten have little impact on a child’s nutrition, physical activity, and weight status.
- The BMI of the mother is a significant predictor of childhood obesity.
- Children’s physical inactivity has been demonstrated to be a severe cause, and children who do not engage in regular physical activity are more likely to become obese.
- Obesity rates may be influenced by a variety of developmental variables. Breast-feeding, for example, may protect against obesity later in life, with breastfeeding length inversely related to the chance of becoming overweight later in life.
- Cushing’s syndrome (a disorder in which the body produces too much cortisol) could play a role in childhood obesity.
- A child’s depression might lead to overeating.
Dietary adjustments and physical activity are used to address obesity in youngsters. Dieting and skipping meals, on the other hand, should be avoided. The benefit of measuring BMI and offering weight-loss counseling is negligible. Obesity in childhood has little impact on adult outcomes at 30 years old, according to a British longitudinal study.
Obesity that persists into adulthood does not affect men’s outcomes, but it makes women less likely to have ever worked or to currently have a romantic partner, according to the study.
According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2017, childhood obesity in the United States raises medical expenditures by $1,354 per year (in 2013 dollars).
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