Obesity in children and teens

Many cases of obesity in children and teens are actually preventable – by living a healthy lifestyle.

Junk food 2

Obesity in children and teens has dramatically increased at an alarming rate in the past few years. The World Health Organization(WHO) has identified that the greatest numbers of overweight among these age groups live in South Central Asia. While obesity cases in developed countries also doubled in recent years.

How obesity swells out

Gaining a few extra pounds does not readily makes a person obese. But once his body mass index, or BMI, is more than 30 kilograms/m², he is considered obese. BMI is computed this way: weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m²). Simply put, a child can be called obese when his weight is already at least 10% higher than normal for his height and body type.

Unless the problem is genetic, obesity in children and teens are due to unhealthy lifestyle.

Unhealthy eating habits. One of the contributing factors why many poor families in developing countries have unhealthy eating habits is that they are not aware or they lack proper knowledge regarding sound approaches to nutrition. They are passive targets of aggressive marketing of high-fat, energy-dense, high salt and sugar foods, and laboratory-concocted beverages.

Affordability and scarcity of healthy foods in their locality are other major issues that these families have to deal with, leaving them with no choice but to resort to cheap ‘junk’ foods. Likewise, it’s a common cultural belief in many rural areas that ‘a fat baby is a healthy baby’. That’s why they are inclined to overfeed their children.

Junk foods

Sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity. Electronic games and a wide selection of television shows have efficiently kept children and teens glued to their seats before a screen for long hours. And this is a common problem in both developed and developing countries. Many children in highly urbanized centres, where space at home is limited, tend to just resort to passive television viewing and video games play than go out and get involved in active games.

How to manage weight  

Unless these two glaring issues were addressed properly, we will continue counting more overweight and obese in the next generations.

First and foremost, you have to consult with your family doctor to determine the cause of obesity in you child. If genetics is not an issue, then the next thing to do is to find ways to improve your child’s weight problem.

Of course, the obvious resolution is to minimize intake (not starve) of high-calorie foods, and to be conscious about nutrition content in the food your child takes. It’s important that your child or teen has the moral support of the entire family as he goes through the process of getting rid of obesity.

You should also encourage your child to play with other children outdoors. Or, you can go out together as a family and get involved in some physical activities like biking, or bouncing at public trampoline park.

Obesity in children and teens is indeed a major problem that needs to be addressed before complications and serious health conditions occur.

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