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The Scourge Of Childhood Obesity - An Alarming Trend

Obesity is no longer a problem that concerns only adults these days. More and more, children are being diagnosed as obese and the number climbs alarmingly fast year after year. Childhood obesity is a condition that affects both children and adolescents, characterized by having an abnormally high body mass index. In the USA, childhood obesity has increased three times over the last few years. Approximately 25% of all children and adolescents in the USA are considered obese or overweight which has lead the government to launch awareness programs and health drives to bring the numbers down.
Childhood obesity brings with it many problems to the child suffering. The primary concern is that it becomes a fast track for the kids to suffer from chronic conditions such as heart problems, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, to name a few. Now more than ever, we see children suffering from these conditions due to obesity when these diseases used to only be suffered by those in more advanced ages.

Obesity not only causes problems with the physical health, it can also affect a child’s emotional health. Being overweight or obese can lead to self-image issues and depression. Children who are obese are bullied a lot of times in school and they might have a hard time being socially accepted. These problems with self-esteem and confidence may persist until their adult years, so careful management should be given thought—both on the issue of obesity and the issue of how the child is guided through it.

There is no single cause for obesity in children. Some of them might be medical, but more often it is a combination of environmental factors. Most obese children come from a family of overweight individuals. This means that the family unit as a whole does not make the necessary steps to keep a normal weight. The family diet might be poorly planned, the lifestyle will most likely be inactive. With all the convenience available to a child such as fast food, video games, television etc., it’s easy to just while away time without being active at all.

It is up to the parents to take charge of their children’s health, especially for younger children. Some people laugh and find it cute to have such chunky children, but childhood obesity is no laughing matter. Childhood obesity can lead to a lifetime of medications and can even lead to early death. 

Obese children should be brought back to their normal weight range. Your doctor can determine for you what the best weight range for your child is, depending on his weight, height, age and other factors. The weight loss can be achieved through giving him a proper diet that is composed of more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less processed foods, balanced carbohydrates and less fats. Serving portions should also be monitored, making sure that he eats regular meals without overeating. Exercise should also be incorporated into his routine, aiming for about 20 minutes of exercise a day and this could take on the form of play. Instead of video games, children should be encouraged to go outdoors and do some running, hide and seek, or other activities that involve them moving around. The family should also be an active participant in these activities especially in the diet, because the child will be taking cues from the adults around him. Parents and other adults should also remember to give the child praise and motivation for his efforts.