Childhood Obesity is one of the common problems that’s rapidly increasing these days. With the rapid spread of COVID-19 at the start of 2020, the world became acquainted with the word “pandemic.” Put simply, a pandemic is a disease that has spread beyond borders.
However, another pandemic has been brewing silently over the years: obesity. The World Health Organization has called obesity an “escalating global epidemic.” Official statistics record that millions of under-five children are classified as overweight. Moreover, in the United States, the number of overweight children has risen dramatically in recent years.
What Is Childhood Obesity?
One of the most common ways of measuring childhood obesity is through BMI. However, the CDC stresses that BMI is age- and sex-specific for children and teenagers. Typically, a high BMI indicates high amounts of body fat. However, it should also be noted that BMI does not measure body fat directly.
BMI in children is based on percentile range. Children and teenagers who are overweight and obese have a BMI percentile greater than 85% for their age and sex.
What Are The Effects of Childhood Obesity?
Many of us will be aware of the negative effects of obesity. This is because many health authorities spend money on health campaigns targeting obesity. We are all aware that obesity leads to health complications. These may also include high blood pressure and diabetes.
Childhood obesity is no less serious. The CDC states that obese children are more likely to become obese when older. This is significant because a lifetime of obesity may mean a lifetime of health issues. In addition, the CDC states that obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood is higher in obese children.
Aside from physical health issues, obese children are also more likely to suffer from mental health problems. This may include low self-esteem, bullying and stigma, as well as anxiety and depression.
How Do We Prevent Childhood Obesity?
The first thing you should do if you suspect your child of being obese is to see a doctor. Your doctor may ask questions regarding your child’s dietary and exercise habits. A physical checkup may or may not reveal a medical condition that predisposes your child to develop obesity.
There are many things that can be done to prevent childhood obesity. John Hopkins Medicine, in an article about preventing childhood obesity, emphasized the importance of eating a balanced diet and physical activity.
In addition, there are many practical things that parents can do to prevent childhood obesity. For example, food should not be used as a tool for reward or punishment. Also, children are more likely to eat healthily and exercise if they see their parents doing the same.
A Winnable War
Although global trends on obesity are not encouraging, we can be the generation that bucks the trend. Children should be educated on the importance of staying fit and healthy. On the other hand, adults can create a positive and safe environment that encourages that behavior. Together, we can all make a difference. All of our children deserve a better shot at a healthier and happier future.
- World Health Organization (2022). Controlling the global obesity epidemic
- New York State Department of Health (2012). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). About Child & Teen BMI.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Childhood Obesity Causes and Consequences.
- John Hopkins Medicine (2022). Preventing Obesity in Children, Teens, and Adults.