Childhood Obesity Health Risks, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Tess Thompson



We all know that obesity can increase the possibility of certain serious diseases significantly. Many times the seeds of obesity are sown in childhood, since significant weight gained in childhood often carried into adulthood.

That is not the only concern that exists with regards to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is also the cause behind various adult diseases that are being reported in children and adolescents. The incidence of such diseases was previously almost nonexistent among children and teens. Therefore, it can presumed that obesity plays a significant role in causing certain so called ‘adult ailments’ in our children.

Although adult diseases in children can also occur due to genetic and environmental reasons, there has been a 400% increase in the number of obese children of ages 6 years and older in the last two and a half decades.

Obesity is a health risk, which has been accepted by all experts. It exposes children to the following health problems:

  • Hypertension - Research reveals that hypertension is more frequent, nearly nine times more, in obese
  • Type 2 Diabetes - Obese children, especially those with a family history of type 2 diabetes, run a significantly greater risk of developing the disease.
  • Orthopedic complications - The cartilage in lower limbs and joints in children is at a developmental stage. Obesity can damage the cartilage since it is unable to bear more than average weight.
  • Sleep apnea - This is characterized as difficulty breathing and the absence of respiration during sleep.
  • Depression - The psychological and social stigma that is associated with obesity can be more traumatic during childhood and adolescence. This can lead to mental disorders like depression.
  • Asthma – Many obese children are at risk of developing asthma due to a lack of pulmonary exercise, as well as a prolonged exposure to dust mites and other household allergens from leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Parents should consult their child’s pediatrician to determine whether their child is obese. This is because you have to first eliminate the weight gain due to the natural growth process of a child. Pediatricians have standardized growth charts that can easily tell whether your child is obese for his age and height. There are other factors that need to be considered in terms of childhood obesity:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) - A statistic based on a child’s height and weight and calculated in a percentile for children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19. Typically, an overweight child is at or above the 95th percentile on the BMI-for-age growth chart.
  • Height and BMI - Taller children normally have a higher BMI.
  • Heredity - A family history of obesity, cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, early cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes need to be considered.
  • Signs of stress of weight on lower limbs and joints - Orthopedic problems are common among obese children and teens.
  • Absence of logical thinking - This is a symptom that often accompanies obesity and sleep apnea.

A definite and positive approach towards weight loss solutions is of utmost importance when it comes to treating childhood obesity. There are many options that you can consider:

  • Dietary therapy can help in obtaining herbal weight loss. This will ensure that your child does not need to take strong weight loss medication that is known to have side effects.
  • Treating childhood obesity with the aid of natural weight loss programs is recommended. This involves participating in physical activities in and/or outside of school. Encourage them to take up a recreational activity or sport.
  • A change in behavior and shift to a healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet. Further, avoiding over-dependence on fast foods can help in treating childhood obesity.
  • Surgical options, like a gastric bypass, should be considered only as a last resort when nothing else works for your child. Keep in mind that all invasive therapies, such as surgery, have risks.

Childhood obesity can potentially ruin the health of an entire generation. It is incumbent upon parents and teachers to discourage over-dependence on computer games and junk foods and motivate children toward active living and healthy diets.

References:
http://www.obesity.org/subs/fastfacts/obesity_youth.shtml
http://www.cdc.gov
http://www.rand.org/congress/health/
http://www.annecollins.com/obesity/risks-of-obesity.htm
http://www.annecollins.com/weight_health/
http://agingwell.state.ny.us/prevention/overweight.htm
http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/

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