What is obesity?
Obesity is the state of being gravely overweight – to a point that affects your health.
Obesity in childhood is linked to many health difficulties and tends to indicate that the child will be obese as an adult. It is very worrying as childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. The number of overweight children worldwide is increasing so fast the National Health Service has been pushed to its limits to cope with the added strain.
Obesity and overweight are caused by two simple factors – an unwholesome diet (characteristically too rich in sugar and fats and without an adequate amount of fibre and carbohydrate) and not doing enough exercise to burn off the calories consumed. This allows body fat as well as belly fat to accumulate.
Occasionally there are other factors. For example, in an uncommon genetic condition called Prader -Willi Syndrome there maybe problems with controlling hunger.
The effects of obesity include trouble with the joints and bones (such as slipped femoral epiphysis and bow legs), a state called benign intracranial hypertension that produces headaches and affects vision, hypo-ventilation (leading to drowsiness during the day, snoring and even heart failure), gall bladder disease, poly cystic ovary syndrome, high blood pressure, and high levels of blood fats.
Obesity increases the danger of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. This is usually a disease seen in later life in adults but there is an increasing trend for children in their teens to present with this disease as a result of being obese. There are also marked psychological effects, leading to low self-esteem.
In the UK, around 27 per cent of children are now overweight, and research suggests the main problem is the continual decline in the amount of exercise children take. Many overweight children have overweight parents – it’s often a matter of family lifestyles.
A child’s body mass index (BMI) is calculated using the same process as for adults – weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. Avoid using adult BMI to determine whether a child is overweight or obese. Specific age-adjusted charts are essential.
A lifestyle that involves little physical exercise and excessive inactivity, particularly television viewing, will cause childhood obesity. There are two things going against kids. One is that they have a plentiful supply of food which often tends to be high in calories and full of fat and sugar; two, a lack of physical exercise.
Children have also experienced an explosion in visual media that provides the stimulation that earlier generations found from physical exercise such as football, athletics or just playing outdoors with other kids.
One major factor in childhood obesity is that many schools have phased out mandatory physical education. This means kids never get told of the importance of physical activities.
Parents must take a more active role by encouraging their children to remain active and telling them why it is so important for health reasons. Activity does not need to be structured, as in sports, but can be something that keeps you exercising and burning calories such as bike riding, walking, swimming or gardening.
Picture in your mind a grave, and standing by that grave is a set of parents mourning the passing of their son or daughter due to obesity. Very sad, and yet it is becoming more common every day. The menace of obesity is striking worldwide. Don’t let it affect you.
Wishing you all a healthy lifestyle, and speak soon.