Childhood obesity - Symptoms, Effects, Causes, Prevention

Childhood obesity is a disease that is currently considered by the WHO as a global epidemic, which is caused by various genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, occurring when calorie consumption is higher than energy expenditure, causing an increase in body fat deposits and therefore weight gain.

Childhood obesity is characterized by excess weight in infants and children up to 12 years of age. The child is identified as obese when her body weight exceeds the average weight corresponding to her age by 15%. This excess weight increases the risk that the child will develop serious long-term health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory distress, sleep disorders, high cholesterol or liver problems, for example.

To help a child who is overweight and lose weight, it is recommended to change the eating habits and daily activities of the whole family, this allows the process to be easier for the child, facilitating the intake of new foods.

Likewise, it is also recommended to go to a nutritionist, since childhood is a stage of life where certain nutrients should not be deprived, therefore it is necessary to evaluate by a professional and carry out a complete nutritional evaluation, to that you can calculate an adequate nutritional plan adapted to the child's needs.
Causes of childhood obesity

The causes of childhood obesity can be related to various factors, the most common being high caloric intake, due to the consumption of foods rich in fat and sugar, in addition to the lack of physical activity such as running, jumping or playing soccer, for example. Currently, obesity has increased worldwide, mainly in school age due to lack of physical activity, since they prefer to watch television, be on the computer or cell phone and / or play video games.

However, there are other causes that are much less frequent such as hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, primary hyperinsulinemia or hypercortisolism; genetic abnormalities such as alterations in leptin, in the leptin receptor or in the MC4 receptor; some genetic diseases such as prader-willi, cohen, and Turner disease, among others and; the use of some drugs such as glucocorticoids, estrogens, antiepileptics or progesterone.


In addition to this, having a family history of excess weight or obesity can make the child more likely to gain weight, due to adopting the family's lifestyle habits.
How to treat childhood obesity

Treatment for childhood obesity must be carried out progressively and with a multidisciplinary team made up of a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a psychologist and in some cases a social worker.

Normally, the treatment is based on the implementation of changes both in the child's diet and in the increase in physical activity, of course all this must be adapted to the age and their general state of health. In many cases the changes should not be adopted only in children but also by the whole family, since it must be involved and aware of the situation, actively participating during treatment.

In very rare and specific cases, your doctor may recommend the use of medications to help decrease your appetite or to treat the disease that is causing the problem.
How to improve your child's diet

Parents should help the child to adopt healthy eating habits, so some tips are:

    Avoid buying industrialized foods because they are rich in sugars and / or fats, avoiding cookies, cakes and frozen food;
    Buy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, giving preference to citrus fruits and raw vegetables;
    Vegetables that must be cooked, such as green beans, aubergines, squash or mushrooms, must be steamed and unsalted, with very little olive oil added;
    Carry out grilled and steamed food preparations, avoiding fried foods and foods in sauces;
    Do not offer the child pasteurized soft drinks, teas or juices, giving preference to water and natural and unsweetened fruit juices;
    Buy a child-size plate;
    Prevent the child from being distracted during the meal, not letting him watch television or play games.

These tips should be adapted to the lifestyle of the family and under the guidance of the nutritionist.

 

 How to make your child use more energy and exercise:

Regular physical activity is essential to help your child lose weight. Some tips to help parents encourage exercise include:

    Limit the use of the computer, television or cell phone to 1 hour per day;
    Find activities that the child likes to do;
    Encourage the child to do outdoor activities such as rollerblading, cycling, going to the park;
    Allow the child to try some activities like judo, swimming, karate, soccer, tennis, basketball or dance, for example.

These tips will help prevent the child from adopting a sedentary lifestyle, being possible to maintain a healthy weight, independent of the hormonal changes characteristic of age.

Possible complications

Complications that can arise when a child is overweight or obese are high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, precocious puberty, menstruation irregularities, glucose intolerance, acanthosis nigricans, infections fungal in the areas of the folds and early sexual maturation.

In addition to this, it can cause constipation, fatty liver, gallstones, asthma, sleep apnea with cognitive deficit, risk of long-term osteoarthritis, genu valgus or varus. flat feet and scoliosis.

On a psychological level, your self-esteem can also be affected, causing behavioral changes, symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as eating disorders.

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