Article by Viswanath Rao
A Preventable epidemic
Key words: childhood, obesity, genetics, special needs, effects on health, epidemiology
Do you know that you are inadvertently endangering your children’s health by your
High flying life style? If you don’t then read carefully
Kids today confront a growing problem–childhood obesity–that puts them at risk for a host of life-long medical conditions. There’s a lot that families and communities can do to help reduce childhood obesity.
The state of the science is much less precise than we would like.
Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child’s health or wellbeing. As methods to determine body fat directly are difficult, the diagnosis of obesity is often based on BMI. Due to the rising prevalence of obesity in children and its many adverse health effects it is being recognized as a serious public health concern. The term overweight rather than obese is often used in children as it is less stigmatizing.
Obesity in children and adolescents is a problem with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. Implementing prevention programs and getting a better understanding of treatment for youngsters is important to controlling the obesity epidemic.
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling as the extra pounds lead to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression
How is childhood overweight and obesity measured?
Bo dy mass index (BMI) is a measure used to determine childhood
overweight and obesity. It is calculated using a child’s weight and height. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.
A child’s weight status is determined using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults because children’s body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.
There is no way of measuring the total body fat and hence indirect methods are adopted, namely, percentage of ideal weight for height (PWH) and BMI
Body mass index (BMI) is acceptable for determining obesity for children two years of age and older. The normal range for BMI in children varies with age and sex. The Center for Disease Control defines obesity as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile. It has published tables for determining this in children. Another method is waist to height ratio of 0.5 has been suggested.
. Obesity during adolescence has been found to increase mortality rates during adulthood
A 2008 study has found that children who are obese have carotid arteries which have prematurely aged by as much as thirty years as well as abnormal levels of cholesterol.
In adults BMI has become standard measurement for obesity. Cut off values for them have been created. In children they are not universally accepted. Waist to height ratio has been suggested and percentiles calculated for each age group
It is to be understood that barring some congenital or hormonal disorders childhood obesity is a preventable epidemic.
1.More calories and less exercise. At home children are dependent on adults for their diet as well as exercise at least to some extent.
2. Consumption of sugar-laden soft drinks may contribute to childhood obesity.
3. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, skin infections, and asthma and other respiratory problems
4. Sweetened drink for milk has been found to lead to excess weight gain
5. Access to Healthy Food and Physical Activity is Disappearing
6. Poor nutrition: Only about 20 percent of high school seniors report eating fruit and green vegetables five or more times a day.
7. Unregulated nutrition: Foods offered in school vending machines are often of little nutritional value and can be loaded with fats, sugars, salt and calories.
8. Less physical education: 92% of elementary schools do not have daily physical education classes year-round. Only about 1/3 of high school students take daily physical education classes.
9. Disappearing recess: Nearly one-third of elementary schools do not schedule recess on a regular basis. Some schools lack the space to play while others feel that recess is a waste of time.
10. Different Economic, Racial, and Ethnic Groups are More at Risk
11. Poor health care: More than 1.6 million children were unable to get needed medical care because the family could not afford it. Medical care for an additional 3 million children was delayed because of worry about the cost.
12.Limited access: In part because they lack access to healthy food and sports facilities, children from lower incomes are more likely to be overweight or obese.
13. Skyrocketing diabetes risk: African American and Hispanic children are developing type 2 diabetes at much higher rates than their Caucasian peers. Almost half are at risk of developing diabetes.
Research has demonstrated conclusively that both adults and children with disabilities are significantly more likely than their peers to be overweight or obese.
Obesity adds an additional layer of difficulty for special needs children
, impacting their day-to-day lives as well as their long-term health.
Finding Balance: Obesity and Children with Special Needs is a landmark report highlighting the epidemic of obesity in the special needs community and outlining innovative solutions for families, caregivers and professionals. The report is the first to focus exclusively on how the obesity epidemic affects children with special needs while providing innovative solutions.
• Prader-Willi syndrome with an incidence between 1 in 12,000 and 1 in 15,000 live births is characterized by hyper phagia (overeating) and food preoccupations which leads to rapid weight gain in those affected.
Bardet-Biedl syndrome genetic disorder. It is characterized principally by obesity, retinitis pigmentosa, polydactyly, mental retardation, hypogonadism, and renal failure in some cases.
• MOMO syndrome: Obesity, Macrocephaly (excessive head size) and Ocular abnormalities.
• Leptin receptor mutations: causes obesity and pituitary dysfunction
• Congenital leptin deficiency: causes severe early onset obesity.
• Melanocortin receptor mutations: causes dominantly inherited morbid obesity.
• 1 Classification
• 2 Effects on health
• 4 Prevention
o Sedentary lifestyle
o Home environment
o Developmental factors
o Medical illness
o Psychological factors
• 5 Management
• 6 Epidemiology
o United States
Commonly cited reasons for obesity include:
• The higher price of health foods compared to unhealthy foods
• Increased portion sizes
• Increased availability of processed foods
• Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks
• Decreased physical activity
• Increased screen time
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Obesity listed some other possible causes that are less frequently cited. They include:
• Inadequate sleep, which has been tied to weight gain.
• Increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in food and the environment which may alter metabolism.
• Climate controlled environments which reduce the calories burned by sweating and shivering.
• Women giving birth at older ages, which correlate with heavier children.
Effects on health
emotional or psychological:
diabetes, high blood pressure,
heart disease, sleep problems,
cancer, and other disorders
System Condition System Condition
• Impaired glucose tolerance
• Diabetes mellitus
• Metabolic syndrome
• Effects on growth and puberty
• Nulliparity and nulligravidity
• Increased risk of coronary heart disease as an adult
Gastroentestinal • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
• Obstructive sleep apnea
• Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
Musculoskeletal • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)
• Tibia vara (Blount disease)
• Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
Psychosocial • Distorted peer relationships
• Poor self esteem
prevalence of overweight among children 2 to 19 years in the USA is on the rise. More children of the lower economic groups arte affected. In this respect Mexican and Espanola children are affected more than their Caucasian peers. Rates of childhood obesity have increased greatly between 1980 and 2010. Currently 10% of children worldwide are either overweight or obese.
Basics About Childhood Obesity
How is childhood obesity measured? What are the health risks?
Strategies and Solutions
What can states, communities, and individuals do to help prevent childhood obesity? What causes childhood obesity? Why focus on food and physical activity environments?
Data and Statistics
How many children in the United States are obese? What is Healthy Weight?
What causes childhood obesity? Why focus on food and physical activity environments?
Is BMI a satisfactory index for children. Waist/height ratio appears to be more accurate but cutoff values have not been worked out on a large scale. There is discrepancy between various regions and gender. Obesity complicates the problem for handicapped children.
Children’s chances of becoming overweight rise the longer their mothers work outside the home, research study revealed.
Today about 25 million kids and teens in the U.S. are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. 1 in 3 kids in US (age 2-19) or either overweight or obese. If this continues the life span of the coming generation will be shorter than their parents or forefathers.
“The best way to prevent heart disease in adults is to cultivate healthy lifestyle habits in children. I hope that this effort will help American families, and especially children, to eat better, be more active and live longer lives.”
Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas
Health risks for overweight and obese children:
• Diabetes which is on the rise
• Increased risk of asthma
• Increased risk of cardiac failure
High incidence of obesity among Children with special needs
Risk Factors: Obstacles to Healthy Weight for Children Children with disabilities face the same obesity risks as other children as well as risk factors that are particular to their disability. In this report, Abilitypath.org has identified seven unique obesity risk factors faced by children with disabilities with Special Needs
About the Author
retired surgical specialist
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