Childhood Obesity

Posted On Dec 23, 2019

Department of

Manipal Hospitals

What is the prevalence of childhood obesity?

Childhood Obesity is rapidly becoming a common problem, especially among urban children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were about 1.6 billion overweight adults aged 15 years and above, and at least 400 million adults are obese worldwide in 2005. It is a serious public health problem that is growing in countries with low or middle income. According to IOTF (International Obesity Task Force), it was estimated that the prevalence rate of obesity could reach 45% to 50% in the USA, 30% to 40% in Australia, England, and Mauritius, and more than 20% in Brazil by 2025. Of note, many developing countries like India, face the double burden of obesity and undernutrition. The worldwide prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity increased from 4.2% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2010 and is expected to reach 9.1% or 60 million, in 2020. Data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children & adolescent age groups in India is limited.  Several cross-sectional surveys have shown a high urban prevalence of childhood obesity in India and studies done in AIIMS have shown such prevalence to be around 20 percent among school-going children of Delhi.

Why is it increasing?

The common factors attributed to the increasing prevalence of obesity are increased and easy availability of junk food, provision of such food in the school canteen, decreased physical activity, unrestricted TV watching, and indoor games, lack of space for outdoor games.

Is there any other cause?

Yes. Other than the common factor of decreased physical activity, there are various endocrinological disorders that can lead to obesity. Usually, these disorders are associated with compromised height, so if any child is not growing in height but has excessive weight, their parents should always meet their endocrinologist as early as possible to prevent the child from short stature and also to rule out various endocrinological etiology. There are some genetic disorders of obesity that run in family and early recognition of these can be of help the future progeny.

What if my child is obese?

Obesity could be the root cause of various disorders. Early-onset of obesity leads to increased chances of Diabetes among children as early as by 10 years of age. It also increases the chances of hypertension, heart disease, breathing difficulty, and poor school performance due to its complication.

What can I do if my child is obese?

From the beginning, you should always watch your child`s height and weight and follow the growth chart as suggested by the pediatrician. If you observe that your child is deviating from the growth chart, become alert as there is a good probability that the diet of the child is inappropriate or physical activity is minimal or non-existent. Do not allow your child to watch TV or sit near the desktop screen for more than 2 hours in a stretch and help them indulge in physical activities such as swimming, dancing, and many more. Consult your endocrinologist for ruling out endocrinological disorders.

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