Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child’s health or well-being. As methods to determine body fat directly are difficult, the diagnosis of obesity is often based on BMI.
Due to the rising prevalence of obesity in children and its many adverse health effects it is being recognized as a serious public health concern. The term overweight rather than obese is often used in children as it is less stigmatizing.
Effects on health
The first problems to occur in obese children are usually emotional or psychological. Obese children often experience teasing by their peers.
Some are harassed or discriminated against by their own family. Stereotypes abound and may lead to low self-esteem and depression.
Childhood obesity however can also lead to life-threatening conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep problems, cancer, and other disorders. Some of the other disorders would include liver disease, early puberty or menarche, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, skin infections, and asthma and other respiratory problems. Asthma severity is not affected by obesity however.
The early physical effects of obesity in adolescence include, almost all of the child’s organs being affected, gallstones, hepatitis, sleep apnoea and increased intracranial pressure. Overweight children are also more likely to grow up to be overweight adults. Obesity during adolescence has been found to increase mortality rates during adulthood.
A 2008 study has found that children who are obese have carotid arteries which have prematurely aged by as much as thirty years as well as abnormal levels of cholesterol.
Children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults. Thus, they are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, andosteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults. According to an article in The New York Times all of these health effects are contributing to a shorter lifespan of five years for these obese children. It is the first time in two centuries that the current generation of children in America may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Childhood obesity can be brought on by a range of factors which often act in combination. “Obesogenic environment” is the medical term set aside for this mixture of elements. The greatest risk factor for child obesity is the obesity of both parents. This may be reflected by the family’s environment and genetics. Other reasons may also be due to psychological factors and the child’s body type.
A 2010 review stated that childhood obesity likely is the result of the interaction of natural selection favouring those with more parsimonious energy metabolism and today’s consumerist society with easy access to energy dense cheap foods and less energy requirements in daily life.
Factors include the increase in use of technology, increase in snacks and portion size of meals, and the decrease in the physical activity of children. A study found kids that use electronic devices 3 or more hours a day had between a 17- 44% increased risk of being overweight, or a 10- 61% increased risk of obese (Cespedes 2011).
Childhood obesity is common among children from, low-income, African American and Hispanic communities. This is mainly because minority children spend less time playing outside the house and staying active. Some contributors to childhood obesity is that parents would rather have their children stay inside the home because they fear that gang, drug violence, and other dangers might harm them.
Source: Documentary TV (You Tube)