Causes of childhood obesity and treatments

Experts from the World Health Organization estimate that more than one billion overweight people live on the planet. At the same time, 30 million children and adolescents in the European Region are overweight and another 15 million are obese, which is becoming more common among young children. The WHO estimates that current trends are leading to 70 million children under the age of five being obese by 2025. Where all this comes from is always the fault of the food and at what age you can notice the first alarming calls, the doctors told us.

Why is childhood obesity dangerous?

Due to Obesity in children is definitely less of a health problem than in adults. They suffer more psychologically: they are more prone to stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. But in the future, there are more unpleasant prospects. It is possible that the problem of overweight will only worsen with age, which will lead to the risk of developing chronic heart disease and diabetes later in life.

It has been found that all children with varying degrees of obesity, without exception, have low levels of vitamin D in their blood serum. And vitamin D regulates the concentration of calcium in the body and maintains healthy bones. Respectively, a deficiency of this vitamin will lead to poor bone health and, in severe cases, hypocalcaemia (if the symptoms are ignored for a long time, this can lead to osteoporosis), rickets and osteomalacia (reduced bone strength).

What are the causes of childhood obesity?

Genetics, lack of physical activity, eating disorders, or all at the same time, are the main, but not the only, causes of overweight in children.

Most often, the cause of childhood obesity is malnutrition – when a child receives extra calories from bread, pastries, sugary drinks, including juices and soda, chips, sweets, insufficient amount of vegetables in the diet. In addition, insufficient physical activity plays a role – children stop walking and moving.

Wrong daily routine – get some sleep, eat late at night and at night, do not eat breakfast. Endocrine pathology – insufficient thyroid function or excess adrenal hormones. Psychological problems – the child grabs the psychological discomfort. Hereditary factors are also important, says pediatrician Ekaterina Turintseva.

Ekaterina Turintseva – head of the children’s polyclinic of “New Hospital”, candidate of medical sciences of the highest qualification category, pediatrician, infectious disease specialist, member of the Association of Pediatricians of Russia.

But children have an excellent metabolism!

“No, this is not true, because the most important thing is eating habits, and when you enter adulthood with unhealthy habits, it is very easy to gain weight and, in addition, it is extremely difficult to rebuild,” says nutritionist Irina Borodina.

Irina Borodina is a nutritionist at the Center for Public Health and Medical Prevention, PhD, first class general practitioner.

In addition, experts point out that only the first degree of obesity, a small excess, can “exceed” a child. And this – with adequate physical activity.

How do you know if a child is obese?

Only a treating physician can reliably determine if a child is overweight. To do this, he measures the child’s weight and height and calculates his body mass index (BMI) to compare it with standard values. BMI is calculated as the ratio of body weight in kilograms to the square of a person’s height, expressed in meters. In adults, obesity is diagnosed with a BMI over 30. The assessment of the presence or absence of obesity in children is determined using percentage tables or standard BMI deviations. They take into account not only the height, weight, but also the sex and age of the child. In children, the value of BMI changes with age and is related to development.

The term childhood obesity refers to both children and adolescents. For children, an age category of 6 to 11 years was distinguished and children from 12 to 17 years belong to the adolescent group. As a diagnostic criterion for overweight and obesity in children, it is recommended to determine the standard deviations of the body mass index (SDS BMI).

According to federal clinical guidelines, taking into account WHO recommendations, obesity in children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years should be defined as BMI equal to or greater than +2.0 SDS BMI and overweight from +1.0 to +2.0 BMI SDS. The regulatory tables can be found on the WHO website “, says Irina Borodina.

Overweight and obese children should be under the constant supervision of a pediatrician. Children under one year – monthly, children from one to three years – once every 3-6 months, students – once every 6-12 months. Overweight adolescents should be under the supervision of an endocrinologist.

At what age can you see the first alarm clocks?

“You have to pay attention to the nutrition of children from early childhood,” says Irina Borodina. One of the most dangerous periods is primary school, where a child may have a slight decrease in physical activity compared to kindergarten, and adolescence, when children have many temptations, such as soft drinks, chips, fast food. But along with obesity, I would like to point out another problem, more often in adolescence – anorexia, which mainly affects girls. They have weight loss, there is a psychological factor.

What should not be fed to children?

In general, the list of products that are best kept away from children is intuitively clear to adults: sweet drinks (if possible, it is always best to replace them with water), fast food, bakery products, products with questionable heat treatment (raw meat, fish, eggs).

How to make the right baby food?

No matter what the child says he does not want to eat porridge for breakfast, doctors insist that it should be in his morning diet.

“For breakfast, a child should not eat sandwiches and bread rolls, but cereals,” says Ekaterina Turintseva. – For a second breakfast – fruit or fermented milk product (preferably kefir, not sweet yogurt). Lunch – always a salad, soup, for the second – a meat or fish product with vegetable accompaniment. For afternoon snacks, there may also be sour milk or fruit. Dinner – boiled or cooked vegetables, meat or fish. It is important to feed the baby 4-5 times a day, avoid long breaks and do not let him eat two hours before bedtime.

Prevention of obesity in children is not complete without the help of parents. It is important to build a relationship of trust with a child with a healthy diet as early as possible, to encourage him to try different fruits, vegetables and protein foods from an early age. As he matures, he will be more likely to include these healthy foods in his diet. In addition, the key to success is your example: healthy eating for the whole family.

Also, do not forget that you should eat slowly and only when there is a feeling of hunger. Overeating occurs during meals in the absence of hunger, when excess calories end up being stored as body fat.

“In the kitchen, in a place accessible to the child, there should be fruits or vegetables (chopped carrots, radishes, apples) and not cookies and sweets,” says Ekaterina Turintseva. – Teach your child to drink water and make sure he walks. It is important to form the right family habits. For example, grandparents, when they meet their grandson, let them give him a book or a small toy, not candy.

Teach your child not to grab dissatisfaction and stress, to follow the daily routine and to be active: for effective weight loss, physical exercises must be daily, lasting at least 60 minutes. You should limit the time the child spends on the screen: no more than two hours a day. The more time spent in front of the screen, the less time is left for physical activity and good sleep. And read about 5 eating habits you need to give up today – this is how grandmothers and mothers taught us to eat, but nutritionists have a different view of these addictions.

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