Childhood obesity is a growing health threat for modern children. Due to their unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle, most children are putting on weight that is tough to lose. Issues like lack of sleep, genetic predisposition, rapid weight gain, chronic inflammation can lead to obesity in children.
Childhood obesity is much more than what meets the eye. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has ranked obesity in children as one of the major and growing health threat to the society.
Your child may start showing a tendency towards obesity long before the body flab becomes conspicuous and childhood obesity symptoms may start setting in as early signs of caution. Given below are a few obesity indicators that every parent should heed.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index also called as BMI. BMI is a scientific tool to determine the level of obesity in children. BMI is the ratio of weight to height and is used as a normal parameter of health measurement by Pediatricians all over the world. BMI tables and graphs are published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These charts can easily be found on the CDCP website as well as is also displayed in files given to parents of children when they visit the clinics.
BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in Kgs by square of height in meters. Thus the unit of BMI is kg/m2. In children a BMI above 30 is considered overweight. A BMI of 35 is considered as class I obesity. A BMI of 40 is considered as class II obesity and BMI above 40 is considered as class III obesity.
Obesity tendency is significantly influenced by genetic factors. Genetic factors are a rising issue for childhood obesity causes. Obese mother or father is likely to give birth to an obese child. Controlling obesity due to genetic factors is a major challenge for doctors as genetically pre-disposed obesity is far more difficult to control than obesity caused due to environmental or lifestyle factors.
Lack of Good Sleep
Parents must ensure that their child gets the required amount of sleep per day. Major brain and body processes occur during sleep. Doctors have linked obesity to inadequate amount of sleep in children. How much sleep is adequate for your child? As per doctors the age wise sleep requirement is:
- Eleven to fourteen hours for children between one to two years
- Ten to thirteen hours for children between three to five years
- Nine to eleven hours for children between six to thirteen years
- Eight to ten hours for children between fourteen to seventeen years
Chronic Inflammation Process
Recent medical study investigations have found that the chronic inflammation process is linked to childhood obesity. In adults, chronic inflammation process leads to cardio, liver and organ disease and is a cause of premature death. The onset of chronic inflammation process is due to narrowing of arteries.
Childhood obesity starts the early onset of deposition of plaque in the arteries thus narrowing the arteries and reducing oxygen supply to the body parts, tissues, and organs. Medical practitioners try to detect the start of the chronic process of inflammation by assessing the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the arteries that supply oxygen to head and neck region of the body also called carotid arteries. Medical studies have found a greater prevalence of carotid arteries IMT in obese children. Increased thickness of arteries in children may show up as frequent fatigue and tiredness.
Increased Intracranial Pressure
The internal pressure in the skull is called intracranial pressure. It is the pressure in the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid. Intracranial pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury.
Intracranial hypertension is increased internal pressure of the skull and in the cranium. Signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure include headache, vomiting without nausea, neurological disorders like ocular palsy or inability to move both eyes in the same direction, swelling of the optic disc also known as papilledema. Increased intracranial pressure in children can start showing up as headache and loss of concentration in studies.
Rapid Weight Gain Syndrome
Rapid weight gain syndrome in children can be the cause of the onset of obesity in children. Rapid weight gain syndrome is gaining more weight than normal weight gain during a year. The height weight chart shows height and weight gain as the child grows up. If the weight gain is higher than what is suggested by the height weight chart then the child may be facing a medical condition called as the rapid weight gain syndrome. There can be several reasons why a child may gain weight more than normal levels. Detection of causes of higher than normal weight gain and remedy can prevent the onset of obesity in children.
Decreased Activity Level
The onset of obesity in children can show a decreased interest in physical activities. The child may become more sedentary and start spending more time indoors watching media or playing video games. The onset of obesity slows body metabolism process and decreases oxygen supply to the tissues and organs making it difficult for the child to take up physical activities. The child may start avoiding physical activities altogether and become obese.
How can lack of sleep cause childhood obesity?
If your child is not getting enough sleep then there may be chances that body metabolism will not take place properly and among other symptoms your child may start gaining weight other than is normal.
Why is genetically predisposed obesity in children more difficult to control?
If the body is governed by overweight genes then the entire process and metabolism of the body is predisposed to gaining weight much more rapidly than in children with normal gene functioning. Though inherited obesity is difficult to control yet is not beyond medical capabilities. Management of lifestyle and environmental factors and food habits can actually reverse the gene tendency and aid in the maintenance of normal body weight. The gene tendency towards obesity can be broken and prevented from being passed to the next generation.
Can obesity be serious for my child?
If obesity is not controlled in children then it can lead to serious physical and psychological long-lasting conditions including diabetes, coronary diseases, respiratory diseases, liver problems, menarche, sleep disorders, carcinoma, high blood pressure, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, poor social relationships among several other medical conditions.
The World Health Organization has identified a rise in obesity as a major cause of concern especially in the developed countries of USA and Canada. Obesity in childhood has a long-lasting effect and onsets the process of illness much earlier in life. Childhood obesity triggers the process of several body and organ illnesses and is a major cause of short lifespan and adult illnesses.
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