Childhood Obesity – How Healthy Lifestyle Can Prevent Your Kid from Severe Diseases

Childhood Obesity – How Healthy Lifestyle Can Prevent Your Kid from Severe Diseases

Obesity is an alarming situation worldwide. Globally, over 2 billion people suffer from various health problems as a result of obesity. And India comes at second in the list of largest number of obese children in the world, after China with over 15.3 million. According to a research, India has about 14.5 million children in the country with excess weight.

This is certainly shocking numbers as children are increasingly coming in contact with the life-threatening diseases as a result of being overweight. Let’s know all about childhood obesity and steps to counter it in the below story.

Childhood obesity

The term refers to the children who are above the normal weight as against their age and height. Children who have BMI (body mass index) more than 95 percent and above, as against their peers are considered obese. Childhood obesity is a severe health threat to the children who are at the risk of several chronic health conditions.

If obesity is not curtailed in the childhood, it can continue into the adulthood.

What should be the ideal weight of children?

The average weight of the kids depends on gender. Here we break down average weight of both girls and boys in India below:

Female infant, toddlers and children

  • Birth – 2.6 kgs/1.53ft
  • 6 months – 6.2 kgs/2ft
  • 1 year – 7.8 kgs/2.37ft
  • 2 years – 9.6 kgs/2.6ft
  • 3 years – 11.2 kgs/2.8ft
  • 4 years – 12.9kgs/3.1ft
  • 5 years – 14.kgs/3.3ft
  • 6 years – 16 kgs/3.5ft
  • 7 years – 17.6kgs/3.7ft
  • 8 years – 19.4kgs/3.9ft
  • 9 years – 21.3kgs/4ft
  • 10 years – 23.6kgs/4.2ft

Male infant, toddlers and children

  • Birth – 2.6 kgs/1.5ft
  • 6 months – 6.7 kgs/2.1ft
  • 1 year – 8.4 kgs/2.4ft
  • 2 years – 10.1 kgs/2.7ft
  • 3 years – 11.8 kgs/2.9ft
  • 4 years – 13.5kgs/3ft
  • 5 years – 14.8 kgs/3.3ft
  • 6 years – 16.3 kgs/3.5ft
  • 7 years – 18 kgs/3.7ft
  • 8 years – 19.7kgs/3.9ft
  • 9 years – 21.5kgs/4ft
  • 10 years – 23.5kgs/4.2ft

Causes and risk factors of childhood obesity

The condition can be due to several genetic, psychological factors as well as lifestyle which play a major role. Below points can shed some light:

  • Kids whose parents or family members are overweight have more chances of getting obese
  • Unhealthy diet full of high calories and sugar including fast foods, candy, baked foods and soft drinks
  • Packaged foods such as salty snacks, frozen dinners, canned pastas
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Children who are stressed, depressed or bored may eat more to cope with the negative emotions
  • Socio-economic factors such as limited resources and lower income

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Childhood obesity - Health risks and complications

Childhood obesity can raise several issues not only related to physical health but also many psychological problems including poor self-esteem and self-image. Below are complications that can arise from obesity in children:

Physical complications

Diabetes

Obese children are four times more likely to get type 2 diabetes than their healthier counterparts, as per a study. In Type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to metabolize glucose properly. It can further lead to nerve damage, eye disease and kidney dysfunction.

Heart Disease

Children who are obese have high cholesterol and blood pressure and this can increase the chances of developing heart diseases in future. High fat and salty foods can increase cholesterol and blood pressure which are potential reasons of heart attack.

Asthma

Obesity can cause inflammation of the airways of the lungs known as asthma. Obesity and asthma are interconnected and researchers don’t know exactly how the two are linked to each other. People with asthma can also get obese at a later stage of life. In USA, 38 percent of adults with asthma are also obese.

Sleep Disorders

Children who are obese are likely to be affected by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and excessive snoring. This is because additional weight in the neck region can block the airways.

Joint Pain

If your child has excess of weight, he or she might experience pain and stiffness in joints. They may also experience limited range of motion due to overweight. Losing weight can eradicate this problem in most cases.

Psychological problems

There are various social and emotional problems that a child can face. These include:

Low self-esteem

Often overweight children are bullied and teased by their normal peers. This may result in loss of self-esteem and increase the risk of depression.

Behavioral and learning difficulties

Obese children typically have poor social skills and tend to get anxious in situations. This can make them either disrupt classrooms or withdraw from social activities.

How healthy eating habits can change the world of your child

Obesity can be controlled through various strategic interventions and healthy eating is one of the most important. Below tips can prevent your child from getting obese:

  1. Healthy meals – You should give your child 3 balanced meals every day. The meals should be less fatty and should not be fried, instead baked, steamed or broiled. You can also serve small portion of lean meat as well as large vegetable servings.
  2. Stick to single serving – Don’t let your children touch second serving of the main course or dessert. But if they are still hungry, let them feast over salad and green vegetables.
  3. Set limit of fast foods – Most of the options in the menu contains high calories, so set limit on how often your child can eat them.
  4. Limit sugary beverages – These stuffs include products that contain fruit juice. These products have very small amount of nutritional value and mostly contain added sugar. Other such products are cold drinks.
  5. Shop for healthy groceries – When buying items at supermarket or store, avoid foods such as crackers, cookies, snacks, ice cream and deserts. Instead, buy items which are low in fat and skim milk.
  6. Eat together – Don’t let your child eat outside the dining room or kitchen. Sit together for meals and always avoid watching TV while eating.

Encourage physical fitness

Fitness and exercise is a critical part of any weight loss regime. Encourage your child for participating in physical activities in school as well as extracurricular sports in schools and in the community. Try to learn what your child enjoys the most and set that in the daily routine.

Set regular exercise schedule 20-30 minutes and 4-5 times a week. You must also limit access to TV, smartphones and tablets or playing video games. Encourage them with activities such as hide and seek, jump rope, cycling, football or cricket. Consider taking part yourself in family exercise such as routine walks and bike riding with your children.

Takeaway

You need to be an excellent role model for your child. Taking important steps early in the life can prevent your dear one from several chronic conditions. For that, you need to apply these things in your routine first which will help your child adapt gradually. Eat healthy and regularly participate in physical activities and limit your family time of watching television.

It is best you prepare healthier and nutritious foods for your child yourself. This will be the best bet. However, if all the strategies fail, there are also weight loss surgeries for treating severe cases of obesity, but surgery alone cannot guarantee healthy body, in the end it all depends on regular physical activity and eating healthy.

Sources

1. Obesity facts read more
2. Childhood overweight & obesity in India. read more
3. Obesity and asthma. read more