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Parents- Help Control Your Child's Obesity

Apr 24, 2008
Child obesity is considered to be an epidemic in developed Western countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia and the problem is increasing each year. The 2007 report by the Trust for American's Health states that approximately 25 million children ages of 6 to 17 in the United States are either overweight or obese.

The problem of childhood obesity is medically far more serious than most parents realise and it is a very real issue that is affecting millions of children each day. Child obesity can be directly linked to a myriad of health complications as well as to poor quality of life, poor self-esteem and impaired social skills amongst children. Because of the increasing rate of child obesity, paediatricians are noticing health problems among children that were rare in the past.

When a person is more than 20 percent above their Ideal Body Weight (IBW), they are considered obese. Obesity can also be calculated using body mass index (BMI). For children, obesity is present when total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls.

Problems Caused by Obesity

Obesity is the major cause of type 2 diabetes and is associated with high triglycerides and decreased HDL cholesterol. Insulin resistance can also be attributed to obesity. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Obesity is a killer because of the broad range of other diseases which it causes or makes worse.

It is associated with significant increases in hyperlipidemia, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, degenerative joint disease and psychosocial disability, and obesity is also linked to depression and problems of self image and with body dissatisfaction.

It is widely recognised to be a serious medical problem resulting in myriad distressing illnesses and is associated with increased mortality and morbidity (shortening life expectancy).

Specific Problems of Child Obesity

Being obese as a child can have a lifelong impact. As well as the same problems that adults face, research has shown that children who are obese or overweight often have weight problems when they grow up. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Increased average blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output when compared to non-obese peers is a symptom on obesity in children. Teasing from their peers is often a problem with overweight children.

Obesity in childhood is known to be associated with abnormal indices of lipolysis, including high cholesterol levels (greater than 170 mg per dL). Being overweight affects school attendance as well, possibly leading to academic problems later.

How do we tackle this Epidemic?

Overeating and exercising too little are usually the causes of childhood obesity. Obese children have been found to be 35% less active on school days and 65% less active on weekends compared to non-obese children. Parents should be role models on exercise and healthy eating and give their children guidance. Children of all ages will enjoy life better if healthy foods exercise are part of their life style.

Children are more likely to be obese at if one or both parents are obese. As children tend to eat what their parents eat, parents can also help their kids by addressing their own weight issues and modelling a healthy lifestyle that they'd like their children to emulate. Parents should also rid their kitchens of junk foods and act as role models by monitoring their eating habits and not eating what they ask their children not to eat.

Part of the problem of child obesity is that the parents rarely exercise as well.

Participate in fun backyard sports with your children and consider taking up a sport with them or one that you practised when young.

A child growing up in a stressful environment, such as one where the child's parents are having marital problems, mentally or physically abusing the child, can make a child turn to food for the only interest in life. He or she can easily overeat at that point, promoting obesity.

Rules for the home by parents can also help reinforce the healthy lifestyle. Parents also must be concerned enough with their childrens obesity to want to do something to solve it.

Don't be lazy. Set your children a good example on exercise and healthy eating. If parents tackle the issue of childhood obesity, it will ensure that their children grow up to be happy and health adults.
About the Author
Child obesity is a major problem for parents that needs to be addressed as a high priority. Refer to Peter Whittington's site if you want details on Child Obesity Solutions or Weight Loss Solutions in general
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