With the growing trend in obesity, childhood is now often the time when weight problems start. In fact, among children and adolescents obesity has already reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the developed world. This is an area of growing concern amongst health care professionals, as obese children and teenagers are more likely to become obese adults than they are thinner friends.
In addition, obese children are also have a shorter life expectancy than would otherwise be the case, with the result that many of today's youngsters will die before their parents. And what parent wishes to outlive his or her children?
The illnesses associated with obesity include diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, infertility and depression. Children who are obese could find themselves suffering from these conditions as young adults without steps are taken to help them lose weight.
There are many reasons for childhood obesity and these need to be deal with sensitively. Young people are just finding their identity and harsh criticism that undermines attempts to get them to lose weight. However, they should be encouraged to take as much responsibility for their eating habits as possible.
Enabling children to understand the consequences of unhealthy eating as early in life is important, as this can help avoid overweight, but what if they are already addicted to junk food? Families need to work together on this and parents should set a good example by what they eat themselves and should get their kids involved in shopping and cooking. It is also crucial to remember that children are still growing and so must not be disturbed of essential nutrients. Therefore very restrictive diets should be avoided, except in extremely severe cases of obesity, and then only under medical supervision.
Parents should also make a point of listening to their children and taking time to discover the undering reasons for their offsprings' overeating. Kids, like adults, eat for psychological reasons and it's important to be aware of any causes of unhappiness, such as bullying or too much pressure to do well at school.
It is important to address the problem as early as possible, as it becomes more difficult to deal with the more overweight the child becomes. In the early stages, it may be possible to get things back on track with a few changes in diet and a bit more exercise, both of which can be adjusted by the whole family. However, if overweight has become a serious problem, it is essential to enlist professional help. Obesity, childhood or otherwise, is a major health risk and combating it involves adopting a healthy way of life for ever, not just until an acceptable weight has been reached.
© Waller Jamison 2007