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Childhood obesity

Obesity is one of the most common problems among many in all age groups. As per the World Health Organisation, obesity or overweight is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may cause impair health. Obesity is measured by Body Mass Index (BMI). The normal BMI for children ranges from 13.53 to 20.08. Children are the most vulnerable age group for becoming overweight. Early prevention reduces the overall burden of health care system globally. 

Obesity causes:

Obesity mainly results from imbalance between energy intake and utilisation of calorie intake. There are several reasons for becoming overweight. Five main causes for overweight are-

  • Genetic factors

  • Food quality and quantity

  • Parental belief

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Environmental resource

Symptoms of childhood obesity:

  • Shortness of breath while physical activity

  • Difficulty in breathing while sleeping.

  • Easily fatigue.

  • Gastric problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease

  • Fat deposits in various body parts such as breast, abdomen and thigh area

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Prevalence

The prevalence of overweight children is increasing every year. In England, in the year 2019/2020, the prevalence of overweight increased rapidly. The National Child Measurement Program measure shows that in Reception (4-5 years old), the obesity rate was 9.9% and continued to increase to 21% in year 6. Childhood obesity is tackled early so complications can be managed before it worsens. There are many ways to prevent childhood obesity.

Prevention

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance currently recommends lifestyle intervention as the main treatment for prevention of childhood obesity. Diet management and physical activity are the main areas to focus on for obesity prevention. Dietary modification includes limited use of refined grains and sweets, potatoes, red meat, processed meat, sugary drinks, and alternatively increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain and adopt more healthier food options, instead of fatty and junk food. On top of that, add physical activity in daily routine. It is one of the key factors for reduction of obesity. Another way for communities to tackle obesity is to take part in government programmes such as Healthier You and NHS Digital weight management programme, which are helpful for handling obesity.

Written by Chhaya Dhedhi

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