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Understand the Risks of Child Obesity

    Chubby Children are always cute but obese children might have health problems.

    Is your child overweight or obese? Don’t neglect it, as obesity can lead to major health problems during childhood. An obese child might suffer from type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, fatty liver, gallstones and are at a greater risk for heart diseases.

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    Childhood obesity is majorly caused due to diet and less physical activity. Nowadays children are playing games indoors, instead of outdoor – this can be a major cause for child obesity. If you remember, in our childhood days, we used to play more of outdoor games – running around, doing physical activities, resulting in reduced chance of getting obese. As a parent, it’s your responsibility that your child plays more outdoor games and reduces intake of junk food.

    The main contributors to childhood obesity can be lifestyle issues, indoor gaming and excess calories from food and drinks. Having said, genetic and hormonal factors might play a role as well. In our childhood days we used to have very less junk food but nowadays every child wants to eat junk food and this can be a major cause for child obesity.

    Every child carrying extra pounds may not be overweight or obese. Few children have larger than average body frames and children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So you might not know just by looking at your child if weight is a health concern.

    There are a few factors which can increase your child’s risk of becoming overweight:
    • Diet:     Regular consumption of high-calorie foods – such as fast foods, baked goods and fries, can easily cause your child to gain weight. Eating too many candies and desserts also can cause weight gain.
    • Sugary beverages:     Sugar drinks can be a major factor to child obesity. Most aerated drinks are very high on sugar content and lead to quick, unhealthy weight gain among children.
    • Lack of exercise:     Children who don’t exercise are much more likely to gain weight because they don’t burn as many calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games, also contributes to the problem.
    • Familial factors:     Usually if you have a family history of overweight members, your child may be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in the present lifestyle where high-calorie food is always available and physical activity isn’t encouraged.

    A doctor calculates your child’s BMI and determines where it falls on the BMI-for-age growth chart. The BMI will indicate if your child is overweight for his or her age and height.

    Based on the Child BMI the doctor will inform you whether your child is overweight or obese.

    For example, a 12-year-old boy of average height (129 cm) who weighs 46 Kgs would have a BMI of 27.9 kg/m2. This would place the boy in the 98thpercentile for BMI, and he would be considered as obese.

    BMI-for-age weight status categories and the corresponding percentiles are shown in the following table.

    Weight Status CategoryPercentile Range
    UnderweightLess than the 5%
    Normal or Healthy Weight5% to less than 85%
    Overweight85% to less than 95%
    Obese95% or greater

    In addition to BMI and charting weight on the growth charts, the doctor will evaluate the following:

    • →Your family’s history of obesity and weight-related health problems, such as diabetes
    • →Your child’s eating habits
    • →Your child’s activity level
    • → Other health conditions your child may have
    • →Psychosocial history, including incidences of depression and sleep disturbances and sadness and whether your child has friends or is the target of bullying

    The growing issue of childhood obesity can be slowed down, if parents focus on the causes. There are multiple components that play into childhood obesity, some being more crucial than the others. A combination of healthy diet and physical activity in the school component is more effective at preventing obesity or overweight.

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