Childhood obesity is becoming prevalent with every passing day, almost uniformly in the developed parts of the world. This problem needs to be discussed on important forums so that substantial solutions can be sort for this issue as this is creating a lot of burden on the government as well as the parents of the children who become obese.
Childhood obesity is defined as a condition in which the child has excess amount of body fat that has the tendency to affect the health of a child in a negative way. However, there are no specific methods to determine the obesity of a child directly, physicians and nutritionists often use the index of BMI to determine whether or not a child is normal, overweight or obese. As mentioned earlier, obesity in children is becoming more prevalent than ever and is also affecting the well-being and health of the children adversely; this problem is recognized as an important public health concern (Rabbitt and Coyne, 2012). Since the use of the word obese is stigmatizing, the word overweight is often use when referring to obese children.
For children who are aged two or above, Body Mass Index or BMI can be used to determine whether or not they are obese and to determine their level of obesity. According to the BMI charts that are being used universally, the index varies for age and sex of the child. The definition that has been presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that has been accepted by nutritionists and physicians all over the world is that a child or person is said to be obese when his or her BMI is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile of the standard value. These centers have also published and issued tables for the determination of obesity in children.
According to the statistics, the rates of childhood obesity in the developed parts of the world increased at an exponential rate between the years 1980 and 2010. As per the current data, it has been reported that 10% of the children all over the world are either obese or at least overweight. In this section we shall see what the rates of childhood obesity are and whether they have increased or decreased over the years in different parts of the world.
In recent years, the number of overweight and obese children in Canada increased significantly. As for the boys, this rate increased from 11% to 30%, from 1980s to 1990s respectively.
The rate of obese and overweight children in Brazil was 4% in the year 1980 and it increased to 14% in the 1990s, which is indeed a dramatic increase in such a short period of time.
The rates of overweight children as well as young adults in the United States have increased more than they did in any other part of the world. According to the data, the rates tripled in just 20 years. However, the rates have not shown any variations between the years 2000 and 2006 and as for the current statistics; the rate of overweight and obese children is almost 17%. The rate of obese and overweight children that was recorded in the year 2008 was almost 32% and has not increased as such after that. A national cohort study of infants and toddlers was carried out in the year 2011 that showed that almost one third of all the children in the United States were obese or overweight when they were either 9 months of age of 2 years. On the other hand, the infant weight status presented a strong link with the status of the child in his preschool years.
Ever since the start of the 21st century, statistics suggest that Australia followed the rates of childhood obesity of the United States. Many researchers and studies have been carried out on this subject and these studies have concluded that the prevalence of childhood obesity in more in the lower socioeconomic areas where people are not nutritionally educated.
Effects on Health
The first problems that the children who are obese or overweight have to face are psychological or emotional in nature. However, these are not the only problems that these children have to face; there are some life threatening conditions that these children can find themselves in. These conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, sleep problems and diabetes, to name a few. Some of the other disorders that develop in the obese children and are way less common in children with normal weight include early puberty or menarche, liver disease and some serious eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. These children are also prone to asthma, skin infections and respiratory issues. Studies have also concluded that there is a strong link between the obesity that a child develops when he or she is still young and the weight status of the same child when he or she is an adult. Childhood obesity leads to adolescent obesity and that is linked with high mortality rates in early adulthood. Apart from these health problems, obese children have to face the suffering that comes from the teasing and bullying by their friends and colleagues at school. Some of the overweight and obese children are often discriminated in their own families and incidences of harassment have also been reported. All such things are associated with the development of depression and low self-esteem and these children can have permanent scars in their personality.
According to a study that was conducted by researchers in the year 2008 it was concluded that overweight and obese children's carotid arteries age prematurely by a difference that can be as much as 30 years. Also, it goes without saying that these children have abnormally high levels of cholesterol.
There are also many long-term effects of obesity on the health of the children. At an older age, the people who were obese as children have a greater tendency to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus, many different types of cancer and stroke than the ones who had normal weight. Many articles have been published in the magazines and newspapers for the awareness of the people and these studies suggest that the health factors that are involved in childhood obesity can even result in a shorter lifespan of children than that of their parents, which is indeed unfortunate.
There is not just one single cause of childhood obesity; rather it's brought on by a combination of many different factors. As for the greatest risk factor, many analysts and health workers have claimed that obesity of both the parents is the single major factor that contributes to the obesity of a child. This implies that in certain families, obesity is genetic and can also be attributed to the environment of the family and their eating habits that makes the children obese. Another reason for childhood obesity is the psychological working of the child's mind that influences his or her eating habits and also the body type of the child is a factor that can contribute to childhood obesity.
"You are what you eat" is an adage that is very appropriate to be used here. These days, it is common to see that children have stopped eating healthy and nutritious meals and instead of that they eat high-fat food that is rich in calories and junk in consistency. According to the statistics, one third of all the teens and children in the United States eat from the fast food restaurants at least once every day. On the other hand, the average portion size that is available at these fast food chains has also increased significantly over the last 20 years. The dietary habits of the children as well as these large servings result in an increased caloric intake, especially in children who are not able to differentiate between larger portions and the ones that are appropriate for their age (Lueke, 2011).
It has been established that excess fat develops when there is a positive energy balance over a prolonged period of time. In children and adolescents, obesity is a result of progressive decrease in the physical activity that directly results in a positive energy balance along with the abnormal eating habits (Water, 2011). Therefore, the major objective of the intervention programs for childhood obesity is to target the behavioral and food habits of the children to improve their physical activity. When physical activity was made a part of the intervention programs apart from just the change in the dietary habits, the results were very beneficial. The reason for making exercise a part of the management program of childhood obesity along with dietary restrictions is that the addition of physical activity has shown a reduction in the rate of overweight and obese related disorders and health problems. The reason why only hypochaloric diets are not beneficial in that these diets have the potential to retard the growth and stimulate reductions in the resting metabolic rate…