Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity – How to help a child?

Childhood obesity occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Because of obesity in children those health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are showing in children. Because of overweight many children exhibit poor self -esteem and depression.

(The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” – First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010)

What are reasons for obesity in children?

The most common causes are either one of the below three or combination of all three factors.

  • genetic factors
  • lack of physical activity
  • unhealthy eating patterns,

In very rare cases, medical condition such as a hormonal problem can be a reason too. However a physical exam and some blood tests can rule out the possibility of a medical condition as the cause for obesity.

Today a child’s diet and physical activity play a major role in determining a child’s weight. Many children spend a lot time in watching TV or playing video games. A study shows that an average child spends approximately four hours each day watching TV. The number of inactivity hours is increasing due to computers and video games. Food Choices – diets higher in calories (including fats and simple sugars) and lower in fruits and vegetables are also linked with overweight.

The risk:

Obese children are at risk for a number of conditions, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Early heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Bone problems
  • Skin conditions such as heat rash, fungal infections, and acne
  • Psychological stress such as depression, behavioral problems, and issues in school.
  • Low self-esteem and low self-reported quality of life.
  • If children are obese, obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more severe

How to understand whether our child is obese or not?

Contact your doctor and depending on the age, weight and growth of the child doctor will recommend to test body mass index (or BMI).  BMI have standard and determined values that helps to understand one is obsessed or not.

Babies with a high body mass index (BMI) at age two months are at risk for obesity at age two years, say pediatric researchers. In an online study published in Pediatrics, researchers say that BMI better predicts early childhood obesity than weight-for-length, the current standard measurement.

BMI can also be calculated using kilograms (kg) and meters (m), as well as pounds (lbs) and inches (in).

Calculate BMI clicking here:

Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index)

How to help a overweight child?

It is important to talk to children about their weight. Whatever the feelings that child expresses will be the feelings based on their parents’ views and feelings. Instead of segregating children in the family based on their weight, it is better to practice a family healthy diet for all. Try this with entire family:

  • Serving more fruits and vegetables
  • Buying fewer soft drinks and high-fat, high-calorie snack foods
  • Making sure your child eats breakfast every day
  • Eating fast food less often
  • Not using food as a reward
  • Reduce TV and video games: Recommend limitation of television and video time to a maximum of 2 hours per day.
  • Take children for outdoor activities – gardening, hiking, running, walking, playing in ground etc.
  • Ask kids to play at least an hour outside or have them do some housework to help you.
  • Bake, broil, roast or grill meats instead of frying them.
  • Limit use of high calorie, high fat and high sugar sauces and spreads.
  • Use low-fat or nonfat and lower calorie dairy products for milk, yogurt and ice cream.
  • Support participation in play, sports and other physical activity at school, church or community leagues.
  • Replace high-sugared drinks, especially sodas, with water and/or low fat milk.
  • Limit fruit juice intake to two servings or less per day (one serving = ¾ cup) .

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that the children born today will grow healthier and stronger.  Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.


Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: May 9, 2019

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