Childhood obesity: risk factors and prevention

Has your child suddenly gained a lot of weight? Your child might be suffering from childhood obesity.  

Don’t worry!!!! You can stop this from happening to your child. Learn more about childhood obesity and its prevention in this article.  

What is childhood obesity? 

Childhood obesity is a health condition that affects children and adolescents whose BMI (Body Mass Index) is 95% or higher than their peers. This happens when parents and caregivers are not able to teach their kids about healthy eating habits to maintain good health. Childhood obesity can lead to health-related issues such as diabetes, tiredness, depression, etc.  

So, it is important to teach kids good eating and exercising habits to keep them healthy. 

How common is it?  

  • Childhood obesity is still growing, in fact, according to WHO (World Health Organization), childhood obesity has tripled since 1975.  
  • 39 million children (about twice the population of New York) under the age of 5 are diagnosed as overweight or obese in 2020.  
  • Over 340 million children between the age group of 5 to 19 were obese or overweight in 2016.  
  • In the US, 19% of children (approx. 14 million) have obesity.  
  • So, it is safe to say, childhood obesity is the most common disease of children in the world.  

 What are the risk factors? 

There are several risk factors that can cause childhood obesity, including: 

  • Diet: One of the most common factors that contribute to your child’s weight gain or obesity is eating high calorie foods (processed foods such as cookies, noodles, French fries, pizzas, biscuits, candy, desserts, juices, cold drinks, etc.). 
  • Lack of physical activity: This is important in every child’s life as physical activity helps in the growth of the brain and the body. Children who stay indoors most of the time, play video games, and have no physical activity throughout the day are more likely to gain weight over time.  
  • Family factors: Childhood obesity is a possibility for a child whose parents or family members are overweight. Because in these cases, people do not lead a healthy lifestyle (most of the time high calorie foods are available and no one puts emphasis on physical activity).  
  • Psychological factors: Home or other environments such as schools, neighborhoods, etc., where kids must go through negative emotions such as family stress, loneliness, depression, etc. make them eat more whenever they feel stressed to cope.  
  • Socioeconomic factors: In a home where both the parents work, the food is usually left in the refrigerator or the kids are given money to buy it for themselves; most of the time, they eat frozen or processed foods which leads to weight gain.  
  • Ongoing treatments: Some children are born weak or have some disease, so they need to take medications that might lead to weight gain as a side effect.  

How to prevent it?  

You can help your child to have a healthy weight by following these steps: 

  • Set an example: This is the first step you can take to deal with your child’s obesity. Children always learn and follow their parents and family members. If they see that you eat healthy food and do physical activities to keep yourself fit, they will follow.  
  • Be supportive: Remember, you need to focus on your kid’s health and not on his/her weight. Give them support and try to understand the reason behind his/her weight gain. Then help him/her to control those reasons and make them healthy.  
  • Plan family activities: Take all family members to the places where they need to do physical activities such as swimming, running, playing outdoor games, etc. 
  • Understand your children’s needs: Try to understand their emotional, physical and health needs while making them fit. Give them rewards for successfully performing a weight loss activity. Don’t put too much pressure.  
  • Try to limit the screen time: One of the main reasons that today’s generation is stationary is because of the screens such as phone screens, television screens, video games, computer screens, etc. Try to limit their screen time by making them eat on the dining table, take them for a walk, set time for playing games, family talking sessions, etc. This will help them to develop a liking for physical activity and when they are tired, they’re likely to sleep earlier and limit their times on their phones and iPad.  
  • Teach them about eating healthy foods: It’s particularly important for your child that he/she knows the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. Teach them about which food they should consider eating every day, and which ones they should eat occasionally, and how these foods are effective to maintain proper health.  
  • Take professional guidance: Make sure you keep a check on your child’s health by taking them to the doctor for regular checkups to monitor the improvement. The doctor measures his/her height, and weight and calculates his/her BMI. And any medications or prevention he suggests, you should follow.  

Obesity is a chronic disease whether it happens to adults or kids, it is equally harmful. By taking precautions you can avoid childhood obesity and if you maintain a good bond with your children, you can teach them about good eating habits and the benefits of physical activity which not only protects them from obesity but also keeps them healthy.  

Want to know more about the treatments for childhood obesity? 

Call us on 347-868-1060 to get a free consultation.  

Give your child a fit and healthy life.  

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