We all care for out children, and this is why obesity help is so necessary. Issues of excessive weight are why you have found this website today as you have made up your mind that help is needed, and more importantly, you want to do something about your child’s obesity or weight issues.
What Is Childhood Obesity Help?
Obesity is defined as excessive or abnormal fat accumulation that may impair health. Childhood obesity affects both children and teenagers. The excessive fat accumulation and the resulting increase in both weight and height change the proportionality of the affected child as they develop.
If left unresolved, obese children are likely to carry the condition into their adulthood and experience more complicated health issues including development of chronic diseases and an increase in health care costs. In addition to the risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, many obese children are also likely to suffer from depression and poor self-esteem.
The percentage of obesity in children in the United States has tripled since the 1970s, so obesity help is needed urgently. Today, roughly about one in five school-aged children has obesity. The prevalence of obesity in children aged 2-19 years stands at 17%, which represents about 12.7 million children and adolescent in the US.
The estimate is that about 59% of adults in Canada are either obese or overweight. Cities such as Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were significantly higher in obesity/overweight population than the national average for adults. If unchecked, most adolescents are likely to continue gaining excess weight. Children who carry obesity to adulthood are likely to die 3 to 6 years earlier than their counterparts with healthy body weight. Did you know that it currently costs Canadians over $5 billion per year to combat obesity? Canada desperately needs obesity help before it is a statistic than can not be reversed in time.
Childhood obesity causes
There are various causes of childhood obesity, but overeating and reduced physical activities have been identified as the primary cause of obesity development. Children require more calories to fuel their daily physical activity, growth, and development; if they are taken in their correct amounts, calories will help the body to gain weight and muscle mass in proportion to their growth. However, if they consume more calories than their bodies can burn, they will gain unnecessary weight. Here are some of the common causes of childhood obesity;
- Diet: This is so far the biggest contributor to childhood obesity apart from sedentary lifestyles. Unhealthy food choices and regular consumption of high-calorie foods such as fast foods, baked goods, candy, chips, soda, and other sugary drinks contribute heavily to weight gain. More evidence also points to heavy snacking with some research reports indicating that most American children snack continuously throughout the day. The reports further note that snacking accounts for up to 27% of total daily calorie intake, which is the highest ever.
- Lack of exercise: children who don’t exercise regularly or at least engage in physical activities are likely to gain excess weight because their bodies don’t burn enough calories. Television, video games, and computers all work hard to keep children indoor and sedentary. Too much reliance on cars and concerns about outside playing is not helping either. Encourage your kids to pick up good exercising habits will translate into a healthy and fit lifestyle. So instead of buying the latest PS3 gaming box for your kid, opt for a bicycle or a mountain climbing kit so you can keep them engaged physically.
- Environment: if you stock your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets with bags of chips, sugary snacks, microwave pizza and candy bars, that’s the eating habit your children will adopt. On the other hand, if you stock your fridge with delicious fruits and veggies, low-fat yogurt, and fresh fruit juice, you will help minimize obesity in children and secure a healthier future for them. You don’t necessarily have to deny them all the ‘bad’ treats, but it contributes to strike a balance and maximum the on the healthier options. While introducing these healthy foods, be sure to spell out the health benefits of these food choices and encourage them instead of imposing the choices on them.
- Genetics: If your family has a history of overweight people, it’s likely that your kid is genetically predisposed to develop obesity, especially if physical activity is not encouraged and the high-calorie food is readily available. If this is your child’s case, you don’t have to feel helpless, encourage healthy eating habits, lots of physical activity and regular monitoring of the related medical conditions.
- Psychological factors: it’s common for most people to turn to junk food whenever they are dealing with negative emotions such as anxiety, stress or boredom. Children struggling with the loss of a loved one, divorce or bullying may eat more unhealthy food resulting to overweight and obesity. It’s also possible that they learned this habit from their parents. So talk to your kids whenever they are stressed and encourage them to share their feelings and use stress relieving techniques such as relaxation breathing, meditation or Yoga.
- Socioeconomic factors: children in some low-income communities are at a higher risk of developing childhood obesity since parents lack the time and resources to prepare healthy foods. They instead opt to choose for readily available fast foods which are primary contributors to the development of obesity in children. There is also limited access to supermarkets and grocery shops in these communities meaning that most families will opt for unhealthy foods such as frozen meals, cookies, and crackers. To add on that, people living in low-income neighborhoods do not have access to safe places to exercise, and playing outside may not be encouraged due to safety concerns.
- Sleep: An Interview research in the journal Archives revealed that kids who get less than the recommended 13 hours a day at the age of 2 are more likely to develop obesity by age 10. Lack of sufficient sleep in kids leads to built-up of mental stress and fatigue which elevates the levels of appetite-regulating hormones and causes children to eat more. Encourage your young one to get plenty of sleep during the day to add to hours he/she sleeps at night.
- Increased Portion Sizes: Portions sizes of unhealthy foods and beverages have recently increased in restaurants, vending machines, and grocery stores. Research has revealed that kids eat more without even realizing you served them larger portions, especially junk foods. Portions mean that they consume extra calories that simply add up to the existing fat deposits.
- Advertising: it may not sound like much of a big deal, but advertising unhealthy foods are directly linked to an increase in obesity. Advertising candy, fast-food outlets, and cereal have been banned or limited in some countries to minimize consumption of these kinds of foods.
- Developmental factors: various developmental factors may affect the rates of obesity in your child. Breastfeeding, for instance, is known to protect children against obesity in their later years. However, this is also closely tied to how long you breastfeed; the longer you breastfeed, the better. A child’s likelihood to develop obesity may be influenced at an infant stage
- Medical illness: certain medical conditions are thought to cause or worsen an condition of obesity in children. Common culprits include Cushing’s Syndrome and Hypothyroidism.
- Excessive weight gain during pregnancy: many studies have shown that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to increased birth weight and high chances of developing obesity or overweight later in life.
- Formula Feeding: most pediatricians recommend breastfeeding over formula feeding. Some formula feeds contain too many sugars and calories that contribute directly to the development of obesity. As earlier mentioned, breastfeeding for longer reduces chances of experiencing obesity later in my
At what age is obesity help most likely needed?
Research shows that children aged 10-15 are more apt to be obese and overweight than younger ones. Weight issues can, however, affect children at any age and most parents cannot tell if their child is overweight and may not take any action until it’s too late. If obese children are identified in time and given the right kind of support, they can achieve a healthy weight and maintain it into adulthood.
Obesity affects children across all social classes; however, kids from nutritionally deprived communities are more likely to develop this condition. Many people consider healthy eating as expensive, but in a real sense, the simplest and cheapest foods such as seeds, nuts, and greens are most nutritious and healthiest compared to pizzas and fries.
Complications of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity can cause a broad range of difficulties in your kid’s social, physical and emotional well-being. Here is a quick run through what can go wrong in obese children and what you can expect.
- Type 2 diabetes: this is a chronic illness that alters how a child’s body uses glucose. Obesity is known to be the number one contributor to diabetes development, and a sedentary lifestyle can worsen the situation.
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol; Either of these two conditions can develop as a result of a poor diet. The result is a build-up of plaques in the arteries that can cause them to narrow and harden. The build-up can often lead to stroke or heart attack later in your child’s life.
- Asthma: Overweight children are more likely to develop asthma later in their life.
- Sleep disorders: as a result of a series of other complications, your kid might develop potentially serious conditions such as Obstructive sleep apnea where your child’s breathing stops and repeatedly starts during sleep.
- Low self-esteem: children often bully or tease their overweight peers. Your self-esteem can lead to overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, a risk of depression and loss of self-esteem.
- Behavior and learning problems: obese children tend to have poorer social skills and anxiety compared to normal-weight children. These problems often cause overweight children to act out and disrupt their classrooms, or withdrawing socially from the rest of the kids.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: this condition does not usually cause symptoms, but causes fatty deposits in the liver which can lead to liver damage.
- Joint Pain: your kid may also experience joint pain, stiffness and limited range of motion as a result of carrying excess weight. This can be reversed by losing some weight and adopting a healthy diet.
Diagnosis and tests
To determine if your child is obese, the doctor will use your child’s body mass index (BMI) to calculate a percentile ranking. BMI, as you may already know, is the measure of weight in relation to height, and it determines the amount of fat your kid has. Using a growth chart, the doctor will compare with other children of the same age and sex. For instance, if your kid in the 90th percentile, it means that compared to other children of the same age and sex, 90 percent have a lower BMI or weight.
The chart has cutoff points that help the doctor identify children who are obese and overweight; if the BMI falls between the 85th and 94th percentiles, then your child is overweight. You child will be classified as obese if the BMI falls on or above the 95th percentile
The BMI method doesn’t, however, consider things like having a larger than average body frame or being muscular. Additionally, growth varies significantly among children. For this reason, your doctor may also consider other factors such as growth and development during this diagnosis. Other factors the doctor will examine, include your child’s eating habits, activity level, your family history and any other medical condition your child may have. He will also prop the psychosocial history including sleep disturbances, depression, sadness and whether your kid is bullied at school.
If the doctor determines that your child has obesity, he or she may order some blood tests including;
- A blood sugar test
- Hormonal imbalances
- Vitamin D deficiency
- A cholesterol test
- Any other test associated with obesity.
How to combat childhood obesity
The recipe for combating obesity in children is no different from that of adults. As earlier mentioned, you need a sound fitness and health regimen. As a parent or an adult in general, you have a responsibility of helping today’s children and youth to adopt the healthy and active lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you get started;
- Lead By Example
The best way to encourage your children to adopt a healthy lifestyle and become physically active is by actually practicing what you teach. Trying to encourage your kid to do something you are not willing to do will usually yield poor results for both of you. In short, you need to lead by example towards a healthier direction. It pretty easy actually; simply stay active, adopt a healthy diet and encourage your children to the same. It’s also crucial to take some time and teach your kids about proper nutrition, safe activities and exercises and why they are important. Encourage them to make healthy eating and exercising choices even when there is no adult around to guide them.
- Proper Nutrition For Obesity Help
Don’t just stop at teaching your kids the importance of healthy nutrition, go ahead and provide a balanced and healthy diet to your children at all times. Childhood obesity essentially revolves around food. Make a habit of personally going for food shopping so that you can make wholesome, healthy selections. Just to emphasize, keep off from fatty and high cholesterol foods as well as a sugary snack, instead buy plenty of fruits, veggies, whole nuts, grains, and herbs. Set this foundation right in your household and your kids will voluntarily carry these healthy eating habits whenever they go.
In a broader view, we should encourage recreational events, schools, and social activities to stock healthy food selections by planning in time. Make the healthy food options such as seeds, fruits, and veggies easy to access. Instead of buying the unhealthy sugary snacks for your kid, offer fruits, nuts and lot’s fresh juice in between meals.
- Cardiovascular Training and Strength Training
Any form of movement, physical activity, aerobic training, and strength training uses calories. Strength training specifically decreases body fat while preserving muscle mass which significantly improves body composition and appearance. Aerobic training on the other is a simple way to burn calories which improve energy and keeps obesity in children at bay.
It’s important to add that kids don’t necessarily need a strict and formal approach to training like us adults tend to do. If the training and exercise program seem to be the regiment, your kids will quickly lose interest. Keep the exercise sessions, safe, playful and in line with your child’s ability to focus and attention. If you don’t have enough time to see through most of the exercise sessions, it might be a good idea to hire a qualified instructor to monitor your child.
- Encourage Kids to Play
Kids are way sedentary these days; technology has overtaken most of the outdoor games. It’s continuously becoming too comfortable just to sit around and be occupied. Encourage your kids to put down phones and electronic gaming devices and go for a walk, hit the playground, ride their bike, play recreation sports and other types of physical activity. Allow them to mingle with their neighborhood friends so they can have more fun playing and be encouraged to do so more regularly.
One of the best ways to encourage more play is by providing things like the tag of war ropes, hula hoops, bikes, mountain climbing kits and so on. Teach them some games such as capture the flag, running bases, jump rope, and so on. Such games might appear silly at first, but they are great at building your kid’s skills such as agility, running, strength, conditioning, strategic thinking and so on.
- Reduce opportunities for sedentary entertainment
It might sound a little harsh, but most specialists recommend keeping TVs, video games, computers and other electronic devices out of your kid’s bedrooms. Go a step further and ban them from dining tables during meals. Limit TV time for kids two years and older encourage more outdoor gaming and physical activity.
- Respect your child’s appetite
Your kids don’t have to finish everything on their plate or cup. They will always let you know when they are full, and you should respect that. If you don’t want them leaving food on their plates, the best way is to serve each kid customized portions depending on their appetite, and of course age. That way, you will minimize chances of kids overeating or be resorting to junk foods to satisfy their ferocious appetite
- Obesity Help Surgery
Surgery is my least favorite approach in combating obese. While it has been successfully used before in adolescents to treat obesity, it should only be reserved for extreme medical conditions that can be improved by surgery. For younger children, observing a strict diet plan and incorporating lots of movement and physical activity in the kids should resolve the obese condition over time.
It’s worth mentioning that the effects of weight loss surgery on growth and development are not well known. There are also potential risks and complications following such a surgery that may not be worth the surgery results. Before considering a weight-loss surgery, you should meet with pediatric specialist including a pediatric endocrinologist, dietitian and psychologist, and dietitian.
- Medications for Obesity Help
There is no particular remedy for obesity; however, the doctor can recommend some prescriptions together will an exercise plan to help with the overall weight loss. You can also get some prescriptions to help deal with obesity-related conditions such as depression, high cholesterol level, and high blood pressure. You should however not give your child over the counter pills as their effects on children and adolescents have not been studied yet.
When to see a doctor
If you are concerned that your child is putting on some weight, talk to your doctor. He will enquire about your kid’s growth and development. The doctors will also ask about your family’s history and if there are any member with who has suffered obesity. The doctor will recommend some changes in the diet and lifestyle of your child if the condition is severe. He might also offer some medication to manage adverse obesity effects depending on what he or she observes.
When detected in time, obesity in children is not life threatening condition; however, it can lead to some nasty illness later in life if not taken care of. Childhood obesity can easily be reversed by observing a proper diet and incorporating more physical activities into your kid’s life. If you think the condition deserves medical attention, talk your doctor about obesity help and strike out proper intervention mechanisms depending on his observations.