Childhood Obesity: a serious and growing concern in our society

food     

Childhood Obesity is a major health problem these days. Initially it was supposed to be disease of western countries and affluent class, but data clearly shows that it is very rampant in middle class families. Main reason as we all know are changing lifestyle with lots of junk food and minimal physical activity. It is important to be in touch with your pediatrician.

Definition: Simplistically, Obesity results from an imbalance of caloric intake and energy expenditure.

BMI (Body Mass index): BMI charts are available which can be used in children > 2years old,

BMI= Weight (in kg)/ Height (in meter)2

Obesity:  BMI more than or equal to 95th percentile

Overweight:  BMI between 85th and 95th percentile

Factors leading to obesity:

child-obesity

  • Enviornmental factors:
    • calorie dense food
    • consumption of processed foods
    • limited physical activity
    • sedentary interests: computers, TV, video games

 

  • Genetics factors also play important role in some cases

Co-Morbidities associated with childhood obesity:

  • Cardiovascular: Dyslipidemia, Hypertension
  • Endocrine: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal: Gall bladder disease, Non Alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Psychosocial effects and stigma
  • Orthopedic complications:  joint pain etc.
  • Respiratory: Sleep Apnea
  • Neurologic:  Pseudotumor cerebri

     Obesity-Cycle 

Interventions:

Successful intervention for obesity is challenging and is best accomplished using multimodal approaches to accomplish lifestyle change. In children we do not want rapid weight loss as child is in growing phase and adequate nutritious diet is needed. So it is best to try to retain the same weight or very slow weight loss.

  • Catch them young – school age children must be targeted
  • Do not skip meals especially Breakfast
  • Increase awareness: media; school teachers; governmental and NGO effort
  • Minimise advertising pressure for  “junk foods”
  • School play grounds; “Games periods”
  • Health food in school canteens

Traffic light Diet Plan:

Features Green light food Yellow light food Red light food
Quality Low -calorie, high –fiber, low-fat, nutrient-dense Nutrient-dense, but higher in calories and fat High in calories, sugar and fat
Types of food Fruits, vegetables Lean meats, dairy, starches, grains Latty meats, sugar, fried foods
Quantity Unlimited Limited Infrequent or avoided

  

Conclusion:

  • India is in the midst of an escalating epidemic of life style disorders associated with childhood obesity.

• The important causes of the epidemic in India appear to be:  unhealthy eating pattern, reduced physical activity, increased sedentary pursuits .

• Prevention must begin early in the form of a public health campaign directed towards lifestyle

changes of the family / society as a whole. The campaign requires strong social and political will.

• Health professionals must think `prevention of obesity’ at all visits, monitor BMI and ensure that ‘nutrition messages’ are not conflicting and confusing.

• Special strategies for different ages and channels of interventions for prevention of obesity have been outlined.

• Clinic based individual assessment of the obese child and principles of therapy are provided.

For any queries consult your child doctor or feel free to contact Maya Clinic. we will be more than happy to answer all of them.

Regards

Dr Rahul Varma

“Healthy Kids, Happy Family”

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