An insight into childhood obesity and its effects on health

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The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased substantially nowadays. These days, the increasing rate of obesity among kids all over has become a pressing concern. For some children, however, the adorable baby fat can turn into a major health issue. There are multiple reasons as to why a child may be obese, it includes medical or genetic ones. In most cases, children who are overweight tend to eat unhealthy food and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Those extra pounds are more likely to put your kids at risk of developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and asthma.

Childhood obesity may also take on an emotional toll. Overweight children often experience trouble keeping up with other kids and joining in sports and activities. Other kids may tease, exclude them leading to low self-esteem, negative body image and even depression. If you are currently watching your child struggle with weight, there is plenty you can do to help your kids. There are Best Multispeciality Hospitals in Chennai with top doctors on board who help you to treat childhood obesity.

What are the causes of childhood obesity?

The reasons encompass the following:

Genetic factors: A child is at increased risk for obesity when at least one parent is obese. But, genes do not necessarily mean a child is destined to be overweight. There are several steps that you can take as a parent, to lower his risk.
Medications: Steroids, anti- depressants and others may affect kids.
Behavioral factors: Eating bigger portions, foods that are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor such as junk foods, while glued to the television.
Environmental factors: Having easy access to high-calorie junk foods, few opportunities for physical activity, lack of parks and playgrounds.
Medical conditions: Genetic syndromes and hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism are some of the medical disorders that can cause obesity.

Symptoms of childhood obesity

Each child may experience different symptoms, but some of the most common include the following:-

Psychological: Subjected to teasing and abuse, and having poor self-esteem.
Pulmonary: Shortness of breath when physically active, sleep apnea
Appearance: They get stretch marks on their hips and abdomen. With dark, velvety skin around the neck and in other areas, fatty tissue deposition in chest area especially in children.
Gastroenterological: Constipation, Gastro-esophageal reflux
Reproductive: Early puberty and irregular menstrual cycles in girls, delayed puberty in boys.
Orthopaedics: Having flat feet, dislocated hip.

How you as a parent can make healthier food choices

Dr Spoorthi Arun of Promed Hospitals offers the following tips for parents to follow:

Make healthier food choices: While you may want to make major changes to your family’s eating habits, changing everything will be met by revolt instead of following it. Instead, start by making small, gradual steps towards healthy eating such as adding a salad for dinner or swapping fried for steamed-rather than making a drastic switch.

Eat the rainbow: Serve and encourage consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This should include red (beetroot, tomatoes), orange (carrots, squash), yellow (lemons, potatoes, and bananas), and greens (spinach, beans, and broccoli) and so on—just like eating a rainbow. Make breakfast a priority. Children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who skip the first meal of the day. It’s important to focus on healthy choices such as idly, oatmeal, fresh fruits, whole-grain cereal that are high in fibre and low in sugar, and low-fat milk instead of sugary cereals, doughnuts, processed food.

Schedule regular meal times and limit dining out: A majority of children like routine. If your kids know what food they get at certain times, they are more likely to eat what is available. Try to avoid fast food and limit eating out.

Look out for hidden sugar: Reduce the amount of candy, desserts etc., are only half the battle won. Sugar is also hidden in foods such as bread, sauces, mashed potatoes, fast food, ketchup and frozen meals. Check out for labels and opt for low sugar products and use more fresh or frozen ingredients instead of opting for canned foods.