Why Sould Childhood Obesity be Controlled?

Online Physician By Online Physician, 24th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Children's Health

Obesity is a common observation among children with the increased availability of fast food and decreased activity in the life-style. The causes of childhood obesity and why should oebsity be controlled are discussed here.

What is "Obesity in Childhood"?

Intake of energy more than what is lost in day-to-day activities leads to accumulation of the excess energy in the body as stores of fat. When this storage becomes abnormally high, it is known as obesity, which is medically defined as a body mass index – BMI (weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) above 30 kg/m2. Obesity is a common observation among children with the increased availability of fast food and decreased activity in the life-style. It is important to take measures to reduce obesity in early stages as it can lead to various complications in the childhood as well as in adult life.

What are the causes of obesity in a child?

Obesity can occur due to many causes. It can occur primarily due to,
1. Over eating or over feeding
2. Familial obesity (where the parents may also be obese)
3. Psychological factors (e.g. – over eating as a mode of relief)

In addition, obesity may be secondary to various medical conditions. Low levels of thyroid hormone activity known as hypothyroidism can lead to obesity and may be associated with short stature, low IQ, inactivity and constipation. Cushing’s syndrome is another cause of obesity seen in childhood as well as adult life. Drugs used to treat asthma (e.g. – prednisolone) can also give rise to drug induced Cushing’s syndrome and therefore obesity. Teenagers taking contraceptive medication can develop obesity due to fluid retention. Any injury or insult to the head can damage the hypothalamus and lead to obesity with the commonest causes being trauma, tumours of the brain and radiotherapy for certain brain tumours. Apart from the above causes, some rare genetic syndromes can give rise to an obese child (e.g. – Prader-Willi syndrome, Laurence-Moon-Biedle syndrome and Alport’s syndrome).

Why should we control obesity?

Childhood obesity is a condition which could lead ti many devastating complications. The child may develop,
1. Orthopaedic conditions such as bowed legs (tibia vara) and slipped upper femoral epiphysis (Perthe’s disease) leading to deformity and limp
2. Headache due to raised pressure inside the skull (known as benign intra-cranial hypertension)
3. Hypoventilation syndrome which includes,
a. Day time sleepiness and drowsiness
b. Awakening during sleep with periods of absent breathing (sleep apnoea)
c. Snoring
d. Heart failure (if it is not attended at initial stages)
4. Gall stones requiring surgery
5. Polycystic ovarian disease in girls which includes – obesity, absent or irregular periods with subfirtility in later life, resistance to insulin putting the child at risk of diabetes in later life
6. Diabetes (type II diabetes mellitus)
7. High blood pressure
8. Abnormal levels of lipids in blood
9. Psychological problems such as low self esteem and being subjected to bullying
10. Predisposition to adult disease such as
a. Diabetes
b. High blood pressure
c. Cardiovasular disease (coronary artery disease, heart failure)
d. Stroke
e. Osteoarthritis

This article has covered the risk factors for childhood obesity and the need to treat childhood obesity as early as possible to prevent many childhood and adult diseases as well as for psychological and social well-being. How to treat childhood obesity is discussed in a separate article.

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author avatar Denise O
7th Feb 2012 (#)

This really is a problem that needs to be taken care of right away. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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