A child is defined as “affected by obesity” if their body mass index-for-age (or BMI-for-age) percentile is greater than 95 percent. A child is defined as “overweight” if their BMI-for-age percentile is greater than 85 percent and less than 95 percent.
Although the causes of childhood obesity are widespread, certain factors are targeted as major contributors to this epidemic.
Today’s environment plays a major role in shaping the habits and perceptions of children and adolescents. The prevalence of television commercials promoting unhealthy foods and eating habits is a large contributor. In addition, children are surrounded by environmental influences that demote the importance of physical activity. In addition, as portion sizes have increased, when people eat out they tend to eat a larger quantity of food (calories) than when they eat at home. Beverages such as soda and juice boxes also greatly contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic. Box drinks, juice, fruit drinks and sports drinks present another significant problem. These beverages contain a significant amount of calories and it is estimated that 20 percent of children who are currently overweight are overweight due to excessive caloric intake from beverages.
Children in today’s society show a decrease in overall physical activity. The growing use of computers, increased time watching television and decreased physical education in schools, all contribute to children and adolescents living a more sedentary lifestyle. Another major factor contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic is the increased sedentary lifestyle of children. School-aged children spend most of their day in school where their only activity comes during recess or physical education classes
Science shows that genetics play a role in obesity. It has been proven that children with parents affected by obesity are more likely to be affected as well. Estimates say that heredity contributes between 5 to 25 percent of the risk for obesity.
However, genes alone do not always dictate whether a child is affected by excess weight or obesity. Learned behaviors from parents are a major contributor. Parents, especially of those whose children are at risk for obesity at a young age, should promote healthy food and lifestyle choices early in their development.
Over the past few decades, dietary patterns have changed significantly. The average amount of calories consumed per day by has dramatically increased. Furthermore, the increase in caloric intake has also decreased the nutrients needed for a healthy diet.
Children and adolescents that come from lower-income homes are at greater risk of being affected by obesity. This is a result of several factors that influence behaviors and activities.Lower-income children cannot always afford to partake in extracurricular activities, resulting in a decrease in physical activity. In addition, families who struggle to pay bills and make a living often opt for convenience foods, which are higher in calories, fat and sugar.
Treating obesity in children and adolescents differs from treatment in adults. Involving the family in a child’s weight management program is a key element to treatment. As a support system, family is integral in ensuring weight management goals are met.it requires a team approach .it is necessary to talk about various option available to both child and parents together and separatelyThe various treatments of obesity in children and adolescents include:
When treating a child or adolescent affected by obesity, it is often recommended that they have a consultation with a nutritionist that specializes in children’s needs. Nutritionists can best help children understand healthy eating habits and how to implement them in their long-term diet. In some cases, nutritionists do not always recommend restricting caloric intake for children. Education on how to read food labels, cut back on portions, understand the food pyramid and eat smaller bites at a smaller pace is generally the information given to change a child’s eating habits.
Another form of treatment of obesity in children is increasing physical activity. Physical activity is an important long-term ingredient for children, as studies indicate that inactivity in childhood has been linked to a sedentary adult lifestyle.
Lifestyles and behaviours are established at a young age. It is important for parents and children to remain educated and focused on making long-term healthy lifestyle choices.
There are several ways that children and adolescents can modify their behavior for healthier outcomes, such as: changing eating habits, increasing physical activity, becoming educated about the body and how to nourish it appropriately, engaging in a support group or extracurricular activity and setting realistic weight management goals.
While surgery has been performed on adolescents in cases to treat obesity, it is only considered for those who are refractory with other treatment option or with severe medical conditions. There are various types of surgical procedures to treat obesity.
Available bariatric procedures include: