Obesity is presently affecting 14.4 million paediatrics population, leading to long term consequences. Between 1975 and 2016, the global prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years increased more than fourfold, from 4% to 18%, according to WHO’s data. For this worrisome trend, 4th March is observed World Obesity Day to increase awareness and prevent its complications worldwide.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition described as excess body weight in the form of fat. When this fat builds up, it can cause serious health problems. As per World Health Organization (WHO), body mass index (BMI) is calculated to define obesity.
What are the causes for Childhood Obesity:
Childhood Obesity occurs due to eating too much and not doing adequate physical activity.
- Easy accessibility to junk food which is tasty, energy dense, high in sugar, salt and other obesogenic ingredients
- Working parents, more of eating out and home delivery of junk food
- More of junk food advertisements and increased size of food items
- Too less physical activity
- More time spent on TV, computer, mobile.
- Less parks and play area available
- Sedentary lifestyles
- More use of vehicles for distances which can be covered by walking or cycling
There are many short term and long term consequences of obesity, some of which are:
Psychological: Low self-esteem, Peer discrimination.
Cardiac: Hypertension, Cardiac hypertrophy.
Metabolic: hypertriglyceridemia, Diabetes in Children, hypercholesterolemia.
How to prevent Childhood Obesity?
Rule ‘5-2-1-0’ as per American Academy of Pediatrics is to be followed for prevention of Obesity, which is 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, screen time below 2 hours, participate in one hour of physical activity, and consume 0 sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
Measures to prevent Childhood Obesity includes:
- Exclusive breast feeding till 6 months of age
- At least 7-8 hours of sleep daily at night.
- Dietary modification
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake
- Choose more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Limit highly processed grains such as snack chips, cereal bars, white flour breads and crackers
- Include a lean protein source at each meal or snack: low-fat dairy, beans, poultry, fish, lean meat or nuts
- Eliminate all sugar-sweetened drinks
- Limit 100% juice to no more than one 4-6 ounce serving per day
- Limit foods with added sugars, such as desserts and sugary cereal
- Instead of dessert, offer fruit
- Choosing healthy snacks instead of junk foods for children
Reducing TV viewing:
Having meal while watching TV lead to excessive food intake, also advertisements in TV causes more junk food consumption in children.
Less sugar intake:
High sugar content food items are addictive and their intake is to be limited. Sugary drinks are also a big NO for children, instead consume plain water, coconut water, unsweetened fresh juice.
Compulsory 1-hour physical activity:
It is a difficult to ensure active lives in children, due to limited time and academic pressures. Parents need to facilitate physical activity in young children, and 60 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity in older children.
Healthy mealtime behaviors:
Forced feeding is to be avoided as it leads to poor self-control and later obesity. Children should eat when they are hungry, and not when they are bored or tired. Food should not be used as a ‘reward’.
DON’T LET YOUR WEIGHT WEIGH YOU DOWN