Obesity has become a significant issue both in developed as well as in developing countries. Children and adults are equally being targeted by the disease. Childhood obesity has touched epidemic heights all over the world. This has a significant influence both physically and psychologically. Children with obesity are probable to remain overweight into later stages of maturity and have more chances to come up with diseases such as heart complications and diabetes at an early age. How obesity grows is not fully comprehended, and it is considered as an illness with several bases. Conservational issues, daily life inclinations, and social atmosphere play critical parts in the growing dominance of fatness universally.
The notion of being obese is presumed to be the consequence of intensified caloric and fat consumption. On the flip side, there are proof that unnecessary sugar use by soft drinks, enlarged portion size, and a steady decrease in physical activity has been playing a central part in the growing rates of obesity. Childhood obesity can intensely upset children’s emotional well-being, physical health, and self-esteem. It is also linked with weak academic performance, and a lower quality of life a children goes through. Other conditions like cardiovascular, metabolic, pulmonary, renal disorders, hepatic, orthopedic, and neurological are also observed concerning childhood obesity.
The health policy experts and professionals, children’s advocates, and parents are now much anxious about the issue of growing obesity in children. The primary concern is that today’s obese and overweight children will transform into tomorrow’s obese and overweight adults, intended to undergo all the issues related to health and the costs linked with being overweight.
What is obesity?
There is no specific definition used to describe childhood obesity. It has been variously labeled as weight-for-height percentiles, absolute weight, percent of ideal body weight, triceps skinfolds, and most lately, by the term body mass index (BMI weight in kg=height in meters2). All of these measures refer to diverse characteristics of body configuration or mass, but they are temperately well connected to body fat, even in developing children. Apart from the lack of uniformity in the anthropometric measurements, the extent of obesity measurement differs from study to study; though, for the conventional studies, weight-for-height higher than 120% of ideal, or a BMI greater than either the 85th or 95th percentile was taken as obese or overweight.
Many different ways are there to know the proportion of body fat. In the examination, methods consist of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), and underwater weighing (densitometry). Techniques like BMI, skin-fold thickness, and waist circumference have been used widely in the clinical environment. Though these approaches are less precise than examination procedures, they are acceptable to detect a threat. BMI may not be as beneficial in children because of their varying bodily structure as they develop through typical evolution but is suitable for discerning adults.
Causes of childhood obesity
Following are the significant causes observed responsible for childhood obesity.
As a result of extensive research, the researchers have found a secure connection between the consumption of all kinds of sweet drinks and weight and its contribution has been considered vital to being obese and overweight. Since these sugary drinks are less filling than other food items and can be ingested faster, it results in higher caloric consumption.
Junk food or Snacks
Junk food items have also been observed as a factor that has a contributing role in weight gain. Such foods include things like baked stuff, chips, and candy.
Increase in Portion size
A drastic increase in portion sizes has dramatically influenced body weight. Excessive caloric intake causes an imbalance in the energy of the body ultimately resulting in obesity.
Lack of physical activity
Research on the particular topic convinces that the excessive time spent on television and no time wasted on outdoor games along with the intake of junk food items, sweetened cereals, sweetened beverages, and salty snacks increase the body weight to a great extent.
Cultural and social factors
These factors have also been the causes of increasing weight. Food has been used as part of socializing in our society, a reward, or as a means to control others which encourages the expansion of harmful associations with food, thus cumulating the danger of evolving plumpness.
Whether they are inactive or bodily active, family habits, do impact the child. Children develop according to the lifestyle of their parents; how active their routine is, what kind of foods they eat, what they do in their leisure time, etc.
Depression and anxiety
Obesity has also been found as a result of anxiety and depression which is prevailing in our children. Children are a sensitive part of our society and are influenced even by minor issues. Some are strong enough to cope with the issues they are having, but others are more vulnerable. Physical health is strongly linked to mental health. And this is due to the difference in eating and sleeping habits. When a child is mentally strong, it shows in their appetites and physical outlook. But on the other hand, if a child has some problems going on in his or her mind, he or she may be obese or unfit physically according to her age.
Consequences of childhood obesity
Numerous important consequences have been noted as a result of obesity. It can intensely disturb children’s self-esteem, social, and emotional well-being, and physical health. It is also linked to weak educational enactment and a poorer value of life practiced by the child.
Reducing the risk of obesity in children
Our genes can’t be transformed, but we can work on our environment to reduce the risk of obesity. And the first step starts with the family. This responsibility lies on the parent’s shoulders to focus on their child’s routine and lifestyle, giving them healthy food to eat, not keeping unhealthy stuff at home, convince them to play outdoor games rather than watching television or playing indoor games, exercise with them daily. These steps, if taken properly, can greatly help in the reduction of body weight.
Selection of healthy food items and getting sufficient physical activity can be problematic for kids and parents as they reside in an environment that does not sustain healthy habits. After family, the outer environment such as schools, daycare centers, etc. must concentrate on ways to lessen the extent of obesity by giving children the knowledge regarding the benefits of eating healthy, doing more physical activity, and also helping them achieve these goals in every way possible such as coming up with more creative outdoor games that make them active, showing the harmful effects of being fat and obese through cartoons, etc. so that they can convince themselves in being healthy and active. Actions must be taken regarding psychological treatment as well. Parents, teachers, and other caretakers must be careful enough to observe the differences in a child’s eating or sleeping habits, and check whether the child is going through an emotional problem.
The causes of obesity must be greatly focused on to slow down the rate of obesity in children. There are many constituents that play their role in the development of childhood obesity, some being more critical than others.
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Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720. (n.d.). doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f
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