Obesity or being above the normal weight is a rampant condition that a lot of people are experiencing. It may still come as a surprise for some, however, that obesity can also exist in children. Called "childhood obesity," this type of obesity is a medical condition that affects numerous children and adolescents today. Childhood obesity occurs when a child is above the healthy weight range for his or her age and height.
The biggest struggle for parents, especially for first time moms and dads, is that they are too happy and eager to take on their motherly and fatherly roles, and they unconsciously overdo it. Sometimes, in an effort to help their child to gain weight and grow up quickly, they unknowingly over feed their child because they think that excess weight is just “baby fat” and that their child will outgrow it soon enough.
Some people associate feeding their family with showing affection and therefore tend to bulk up serving sizes and treats in an effort to demonstrate love for their children. However, there is a huge difference between having healthy, well-nourished children on the one hand, and obese children on the other.
Causes: Child obesity can be due to a number of causes:
- Children who do not undertake regular physical activity are common victims of this condition.
- High volume of daily calorie intake, especially “empty” calories, on a regular basis will put children at high risk.
- Too much fat and sugar in the diet (an obvious culprit).
- Family genetics has also been pinpointed by studies as a risk factor for child obesity.
Signs and Symptoms: Apart from the obvious physical evidence of obesity, other signs and symptoms are:
- Disproportionate facial features
- Clothes becoming noticeably tighter and tighter
- Higher than normal body mass index (BMI)
- Difficulty in performing daily activities
- Sleeping in most of the time
- Alarming increase in weight
Health and Other Risks: Childhood obesity is something that needs to be taken very seriously because of the numerous serious health risks it poses. Research suggests that childhood obesity may lead to diabetes, sleep apnoea (difficulty breathing while asleep), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. An alarming issue is that childhood obesity, and all the health risks it entails, follow the individual through to adulthood.
Apart from the health risks that childhood obesity may bring, psychological and emotional issues also loom over children suffering from obesity. With peer pressure plus the heightened pressure coming from the media to be slim, discrimination and bullying against obese children is very high.
This can lead to children having low self-esteem and lacking self-confidence, which also results in lack of social activities and sometimes even depression and withdrawal.