Childhood Obesity: Cause, Effect and Prevention

Obesity, a term, which was generally used for adults has intruded the kids world, and that too in a big and concerning way. There was a time when chubby kids were considered as cute. But there is nothing cute about the overall impact that obesity can have on the mental and physical health of the child.
Is your child obese? Basal metabolic index or BMI is an index used to measure body fat, based on parameters of height and weight of the child, and calculated BMI is plotted on BMI charts.
The categorization is as follows according to respective age and sex:

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Overweight category is an alarming sign of the things to come, and obese is definitely a cause of serious concern.
Causes: The cause of obesity in children is multi-factorial:
1. Dietary habits
2. Lifestyle which include outdoor and indoor activities.
3. familial or genetic
4. Metabolic or hormonal
5. Chromosomal defects
These are just a few of the major causes.The children with familial, genetic ,chromosomal or metabolic causes will need medical or surgical help along with dietary and lifestyle changes.
Of all the causes, dietary habits and life style are major factors nowadays. Parents are responsible for dietary habits that the child come to acquire. Therefore, they would be well advised to follow dietary pattern and other measures given below, for optimum development and health of child:
1. Till 6 month: Children exclusively breast fed till 6 months and then continued complementary for 2 years of age helps in overcoming overweight in older childhood.
2. After 6 month: When the weaning of breastmilk starts then child should be exposed to healthy foods like rice,pulses vegetable rather than maggi noodles, candies and chips
3. Up to 2 year: Child can be given much greater amount of fat in form of ghee, butter etc as it helps in brain development.
4. After 2 years: If amount of fat is not curtailed, then it may get deposited and later lead to overweight and obesity problems.
5. Water: Child should be encouraged to drink water in sufficient amount along with nutritious food like salads, pulses, cereals. Parents should prepare these items in a way to lure the kids to it.
6. Fast Food: Pastries, burgers and other fast food items should be occasional and need not be totally forbidden.
7. Cartoons: Not more than two hours of TV viewing is recommended and no screen time for children less than 2 years. A recent research shows that a child normally spends 7 hours in front of screen be it television, computer or video game.
8. Games: Child should be encouraged outdoor activities and games at least 1 hour daily. It will build sportsmanship and pink health.
Effects of obesity:
1. Children affected with overweight and obesity have many physical and mental effects.
2. They are more prone to develop high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes at an earlier age.
3. They are teased by their peers as they are often sluggish in their activities.
4. This neglect by their peers can cause depression or withdrawal of child from society.
5. Boys and girls both can have puberty at an earlier age leading to mental problems.

Childhood is a time when huge and almost miraculous growth takes place in a short period, both on mental and physical fronts, which becomes a foundation for a healthy and sound adult personality. Let us not compromise this miracle of nature, and let the child bloom in the most optimum way by giving her a healthy diet and lifestyle.