Obesity rates in children and adults are increasing leading to several health risks. The latest U.S statistics on obesity reveal the following facts
- 50mn overweight, 40mn obese, 3mn morbidly obese
- Eight out of ten over the age of 25 are overweight
- 78% of Americans do not follow basic activity level recommendations
- 25% completely sedentary
- Since 1990 type-2 diabetes cases in 30-40 year olds has seen 76% increase
Childhood obesity rates are also spiraling as shown below:
- 16% children were overweight in 1994
- 25% of all white children were overweight in 2001
- Hospital costs associated with obesity rose to 127mn in 1999 from 35mn in 1979
Facts about obesity:
Childhood obesity can lead to obesity in adulthood
Family background and genetics play an important role in determining obesity
Weight maintenance and shedding excess weight should be the goal of overweight children
Developing healthy eating habits and playing outdoors can help in curbing obesity
Effects of obesity in children and adults:
Obesity can lead to several health diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease in children and adults. High cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride level, are other risk factors that can be followed from childhood to adulthood. Hence there is a link between childhood health and long-term adult health. Overweight children are more than likely to have high cholesterol levels. Type-2 diabetes cases have also increased phenomenally in children and adults over the past 2 years. This is also linked to obesity.
Another concern of child obesity is that the condition might persist in adulthood also. Age of onset, severity and parental obesity are also the causes for persistence of obesity.
Obesity brings with it many psychological and emotional consequences also. Obese children may feel left out and lonely and they may be treated differently be peers. This can cause identity and self esteem problems in children.
Causes for obesity in adults and children:
Genetics: this plays an important role in determining obesity. About 5-25% of risk to obesity is due to genetic reasons. Environmental and behavioral factors also play a role.
Dietary pattern: Dietary pattern also leads to obesity in children and adults. Obese children consume more of energy or fats and less of nutritious food. Large portion sizes at restaurants, more of soft drinks consumption and less physical activity are other causes that have led to obesity in children and adults.
Parent-child relationship: The parent-child interaction while eating also plays an important role in determining obesity.
Amount of time spent in watching TV: This also indirectly leads to obesity in children and adults because you do not spend energy while watching TV, TV reduces the time spent by a child in any other activity like running or dancing, The advertisements are full of praise for high calorie foods.
Physical activity: Obesity is strongly linked with lack of physical activity. Most of the younger generation spends more time on computer games and in front of the TV than in any sport.
Healthy eating suggestions:
Follow the dietary guidelines for healthy eating
Guide and advise youngsters in food choices rather than dictate
Encourage children to eat when hungry and to eat slowly
Avoid withholding food as punishment
Plan healthy snacks
Carefully cut the amount of calories and fat intake
Store enough fruits and vegetables and nuts including low-fat milk in the fridge, avoid soft drinks and fatty food items
Discourage eating meals or snacks in front of the TV
Children and adults must start the day with a healthy breakfast
You should help children undertake a weight management program. Weight loss for adults and children should be gradual and not sudden. It is not advisable to consume diet control pills or supplements without the advice of a health care professional. Mostly children try to follow what the parents do and this is true even in the case of eating. If a child sees his father or mother snacking with a bag of chips in front of the TV he will follow the same eating habits too. Parents must make a conscious effort to inculcate the right eating habits in children so that the menace of growing childhood and adult obesity is done sway with.