Obesity refers to excessive fat in the body. It is a very serious problem faced by today’s children in India as well as in other countries. It is also one of the prominent medical problems in India. Other than the health risks like heart disease and stroke, obesity can also trigger numerous emotional and social problems.
Breast feeding can considerably reduce the risk of obesity.
What are the causes of Childhood obesity?
Children whose calorie intake is greater than that of other children will definitely put on weight that gradually leads to obesity. There are several factors that encourage weight gain and obesity. They are-
- Genetic factors- If there is a family history of obesity in parents, children are also likely to become obese.
- Eating habits- A child’s food habits greatly influence his body weight. Preferring fast food items, high-calorie snacks etc can cause obesity.
- Lack of physical activity- Lack of exercise or activity is yet another negative factor. The widespread of television and computer has made activity unwanted. Indulging in computer games rather than playing on the ground is largely seen now-a-days.
How to find obesity in children?
There are normally two ways to find obesity in children.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) – BMI helps to find whether the child’s weight is proportionate to his height. It is defined as the weight in kilos divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2). If the value is above 85th percentile, the child faces a risk of being overweight and if it is above 95th percentile, the child is obese.
- Body Fat Percentage- Calculating the percentage of body weight is also good to check obesity. 25% and above is considered obese in boys and 32% and above is obese in girls.
Treating obesity in children
Obesity in children is easier to cure than in adults.
Here are some ways to treating obesity successfully.
- Encouraging physical activity- engaging in a physical activity helps to burn extra calories in the body. Cycle riding, running and swimming are excellent for losing weight. Participating in school sports and games is also desirable. Reduce the time spend on watching TV and playing computer games and stimulate strenuous activity.
- Maintaining a balanced diet- Avoid high- calorie snacks completely and introduce lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into the diet. But an occasional treat of snacks is alright. You can also seek the help of a dietitian to know about the nutritional needs of your child and to make a proper diet plan.
Your role as a parent.
Once you find your child to be obese, you should take the initiative to bring him back to healthy weight. Parents’ control over the child’s activities is very decisive in achieving the goal. As a parent you should-
- Support him always. Let him know that you love him whether he is obese or not.
- Encourage the suggested remedial measures.
- Don’t disapprove of your child, even under stress.
- Remember that successful treatment depends upon the involvement of both the parent and the child.