Obesity is a serious and major health complication contributing to 112,000 deaths annually most of which are preventable. Obesity is to a condition where excess fat has collected in the body has to the level of adversely affecting one’s health. There is no general agreement on the lowest explanations of obesity in adolescents and children. Therefore, most professionals accept the guidelines published on body mass index (BMI) to measure cases of overweight in children and adolescents. The increase of obesity among children in 2008 increased from 5 percent to 17 percent in the same year. This paper will focus to explore the causes of obesity in children and give methods on how it can be prevented. One is considered as obese or overweight when his or her body mass index BMI exceeds 30 kg/m2) (Flegal, 2000).
Body mass index is obtained by measuring an individual’s weight in kilograms relative to his or her height in meters. Presently obesity is the widest spread medical problem affecting children and teenagers in developed countries like the United States. Other measure of obesity include: a) Weight-to-height tables- These tables define being overweight and give ranges for a healthy weight based on the height of a teenager or child. b) Body fat percentage- Fat a percentage of body weight, is a strong indicator of obesity. Boys are regarded obese when their body fat is above 25 percent and girls over 32 percent. Obesity has profound effects on the life of a patient by increasing the possibility of contracting variety of diseases. The following are health consequences of obesity according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cancers (breast, endometrial and colon)
Coronary heart disease
Type 2 diabetes
Gallbladder and liver and disease
Gynecological problems (infertility, abnormal menses)
In addition to the health consequences above, obesity can also create social, as well as, emotional problems to an individual or patient due to the stigma associated with one being overweight.
Causes of obesity
Physical exercise and dieting are among the best ways for treating obesity. One can improve his or her diet quality by reducing the intake foods rich in energy, e.g. those high in sugars and fat and increasing the consumption of dietary fiber. Drugs such as anti- obesity medication drugs may be taken to lower appetite or inhibit the absorption of fat. A gastric balloon may enable one lose weight if exercise, medication and diet are not effective. Surgery may also be performed to lower stomach volume and or bowel length. This leads to earlier satiation and reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food. Below are some of the major causes of obesity (Ferry, 2011).
Physical inactivity- The increased use of computers, video games and televisions have largely contributed to an inactive lifestyle for many teenagers and children in developed countries like the U.S. On average, teenagers and children in the United States of America spend three hours daily watching television. This form of recreation not only uses little energy but also encourages eating of snacks. Only one-third of children in the United States have daily physical exercise education in school. Dietary habits- The eating habits of teenagers and children have shifted away from healthy foods such as vegetables and whole grains to enormous reliance on fast foods, sugary drinks and eating processed snacks. These foods tend to contain high levels of fat or calories but low in essential nutrients. Unhealthy eating habits include eating when not hungry, watching television while eating or eating while doing homework e.t.c. Genetic factors- Some families tend to have obesity.
Parents who are obese tend to have obese children. It is very crucial to note that obesity does not occur through genetics alone, but when one eats more calories than he or she uses. Socioeconomic status-Non working parents or families with low incomes are more likely to consume excess calories for a given level of activity. Specific medical conditions can cause obesity but are rare. This includes inherited disorders of metabolism, hormone or chemical imbalances. Certain medications can alter how the body stores fat or processes food, thus resulting to weight gain. There is limited evidence to support the fact that some people who are overweight eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism. Obese people require more energy expenditure than people who are thin due to the energy required to maintain their massive body mass. Conclusion
Obesity is considered a major cause of deaths worldwide with increasing prevalence in children, teenagers and adults. The American Heart Association has guidelines for healthy children and families. It recommends that one should eat adequate calories and eat a wide variety of foods to obtain adequate nutrition. It also recommends that the total cholesterol taken per day should be less than 300mg. These guidelines are only applicable to children above two years of age. It is necessary for everyone in the family to apply these guidelines and not just those who are obese. Schools should introduce anti bullying campaign to assist overweight children. The biggest responsibility falls on parents to ensure their children observe healthy eating tips.
American Heart Association. “Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children.” Apr. 19, 2012. . Ferry Jr., R.J., ed. Nutrition and Health: Management of Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 2011: 416. United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Childhood Overweight and Obesity.” Apr. 27, 2012. .