What is childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity is an excess of body fat in children. Although it is usually used as a synonym for overweight, it does not mean the same thing. We would speak of overweight when a child has a weight above the average, compared to those of the same height and age. In both cases the child’s weight is considered unhealthy.
Prognosis of the disease
During the infantile stage it is unlikely that the consequences caused by obesity will be suffered. People with obesity problems are more likely to suffer complications in adulthood.
Obesity in children may carry the following risks:
- Diabetes or high blood glucose levels.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Heart attacks.
- Bone and joint problems that can lead to osteoarthritis.
- sleep apnea
Symptoms of obesity in children
Some of the symptoms are noticeable to the naked eye, but others are not. The most common symptomatology is the following:
- High body weight with high levels of fat
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness that negatively affects school and daily routines.
- Attention problems.
Currently, childhood obesity is a problem that affects a large number of developed countries where the number of overweight children and adolescents is growing at an alarming rate.
Tests for detection
A medical examination is necessary to determine this problem. The doctor performs a physical examination of the patient, in addition to making sure if there is a family history of obesity, to know their habits when it comes to exercise and eating.
Additionally, a blood test may be requested to determine if the obesity is caused by endocrine or thyroid disorders. Such examinations are recommended for children as young as 6 years of age.
What are the causes of childhood obesity?
The main cause of childhood obesity is eating more food than a child of that age requires. All the calories that are consumed unnecessarily are stored in the adipocytes for later use. If this happens repeatedly, it leads to obesity.
Generally, children do not consume more calories than their body needs, but due to the massive consumption of ultra-processed foods, more and more cases are occurring. In addition, children tend to be less careful with their diet, consuming sweets and different sugary products. All these unhealthy foods are low cost and come in large packages, causing them to eat more than the recommended amount.
Can it be prevented?
In most cases it can be avoided by establishing exercise and eating habits from the first years of life. However, when obesity is caused by thyroid, endocrine or other problems, it will be more complicated to address.
Treatments for obesity in children
To treat obesity in children, the first thing to do is to support your child and help him or her establish mechanisms that will allow him or her to achieve a healthy weight. It is necessary to insist that he/she acquires the habit of movement, since this will be the most determining factor in achieving weight loss.
To change your lifestyle you will need the support of your close environment, which will encourage and congratulate you with every small result you get. For this physical change, the following aspects should be taken into account:
- Learn to give standard portions to our child.
- Buy natural and healthy food.
- To cook varied and nutritious menus.
- Control what the child eats outside the home.
- Offer fruit in different formats (juice, cut into pieces, fruit salad, etc.).
- Consume low-fat and low-calorie crackers and cheeses.
- Avoid soft drinks and sugary drinks.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Try to get children to exercise moderately for 1 hour a day.
- Motivate the child to be more active through games and excursions.
- Prohibit more than two hours a day watching television or using electronic devices.
What specialist treats it?
The experts in charge of diagnosing and treating this feeding problem are family pediatricians, although the collaboration of a dietician may also be necessary.