BMI, Child health, childhood obesity, Obesity, Social Relations, Uncategorized

Health Hazards of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become a grave problem around the world, especially among developing economies. China and India top the list for obese children and adolescents in the world. This is a problem that has largely been exacerbated because of lifestyle, living conditions and, to a certain extent, genetics.

Increased rates of obesity among children have also made them susceptible to a range of diseases previously unheard of among children and young adults. Excess weight among children can lead to the following health hazards:

Heart Problems

Research shows that up to 70% of overweight children have at least one risk factor for cardio vascular disease, 39% of them have two or more such risk factors. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of arteries, can begin as early as childhood among obese children. This is one of the founding causes of heart issues and is closely linked to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

High Blood Pressure

Increased blood pressure caused by constricting of arteries has also gotten increasingly common among obese children. This puts a lot of strain on the heart and can cause serious problems to a child who should otherwise be highly physically active.

Type-2 Diabetes

One of the most dreaded lifestyle diseases out there, type-2 diabetes was once considered to be a disease of adults. Not so anymore. This ailment has become more and more common among children and has begun to afflict them earlier than ever before. Children diagnosed with diabetes face a shorter than average life span over and above a host of other problems.

Metabolic Syndrome

One of the most common problems suffered by overweight children is metabolic syndrome. Almost 25 to 40% of children diagnosed with childhood obesity will develop this disease. This ailment sets the stage for even more serious disorders like diabetes and heart issues. This problem can include abnormal lipids, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, among others. This can, however, be well-managed by taking good care of one’s diet and exercising regularly. Reducing weight can, to an extent, reverse this issue.

Liver Issues

Fatty liver often afflicts children who are overweight. Also known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, this disease, when not taken care of, can also lead to cirrhosis.

Social Stigma

Childhood obesity can often be a tough thing to deal with. There comes a lot of social stigma attached with this issue and it can leave a great deal of scars on a young, impressionable mind. We live in a society that hails thinness. In a time like this, for a child to be overweight, can make them feel less likeable. Bullying, low self-esteem, depression, are just a few issues that affect children that are overweight.

Emotional Eating

One of the most vicious cycles an overweight child can fall into is the cycle of emotional eating. A child who feels discriminated against because of their weight can often turn to food as a means to feel better. The child may start seeking emotional comfort in food, so while their parents and doctor are advising them to eat less, they are only looking to add more calories to their diet. This can be best managed by joining a habit transformation program which will focus on helping you and your child change your lives through the science of behaviour change by being supportive, and providing the child the emotional confidence and comfort they need.

BMI, Child health, Obesity, Social Relations, Uncategorized

Here’s Why Young India is Growing Obese

Young India is growing obese at an alarming rate. Today, India has the second highest number of over weight and obese children and adolescents and ranks only behind China in this. In 2010 16% of children aged 13 to 18 were considered obese, in 2016 the number more than doubled to 29%. This sort of a spike in the number of overweight children is a huge cause of worry. The condition is so worrisome that the International Diabetes Foundation anticipates India to have almost 123 million cases of diabetes by 2040. 

Here are some very pertinent reasons as to why more and more children in India are growing obese:

Unhealthy Diet Patterns

The average purchasing power of the Indian citizen has risen greatly over the last few decades. This has increased their access to energy and calorie rich food items. Over and above this, the increased prevalence of television in day to day lives has exposed children to targeted advertising which has also altered their tastes greatly. Even school cafeterias are selling processed food and other unhealthy items. The lack of a balanced diet which takes into consideration what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat has been one of the major factors in the booming obesity rates in our country. 

Burden of Competition

Children today are more burdened with expectations than, possibly, at any other time in history. From academics to body image, the child has to face constant scrutiny, not only from the family but also peers. Parents too find their identity in how well their children perform thereby adding to the child’s developing sense of self. Often children resort to eating as a way to make themselves feel better and cope with their low sense of self. The increased academic competition has led to many children simply eliminating sports from their daily routine. This has worked against them in many ways, most importantly, it has led to supporting this epidemic of obesity. 

Lack of Physical Activity

There has been a marked shift in how the young generation partakes of its entertainment. From outdoor sports to video games, the journey has been fraught. Children today do not have to look too far for fun. Be it television or video games, there are little to no avenues for a child to indulge in sports. The growing paucity of sports academies and playgrounds is also a problem which hinders a child from going out and playing the sport they love. Even something as simple as riding a bicycle has become a rare activity among kids today. This lack of physical activity is one of the biggest causes of obesity, especially when coupled with the increased dependency on calorie rich foods. 

Indulgence by Parents 

Parents always believe in giving their child the best of what they can afford. This, however, may not be the wisest course of action when it comes to the child’s health. Giving a child all that he or she wants is not necessarily the best parenting method. As parents, it behooves one to think long-term and understand what would be best for the child going forward. From establishing healthy habits to developing an affinity for physical activity. There are a number of ways in which an indulgent parent can also raise a healthy child. 

Technology

One of the biggest contributors to the sedentary lifestyle of children today is technology. From smartphones to computers to the television, technology has almost taken over a child’s world. Be it studies or entertainment, you will find the child sitting in front of the computer. This has become prevalent to such an extent that many children forego physical activity because of it. The amount of time spent by the child with a gadget has led to significantly lower hours of sleep and poorer quality of sleep. Lack of sleep is another mail cause of weight gain in children. Limiting a child’s access and use of technology is one of the most important things if you believe it is hampering their health. 

All of these reasons are based on habits practiced by the family and can be reversed and transformed into healthy habits which will help the child lose weight and become a healthier and surer version of themselves. 

BMI, Child health, Obesity, Social Relations

Childhood Obesity’s Effects on Social Relationships

While childhood obesity has acquired epidemic proportions across the globe, it comes at the heels of a culture that has made it a habit of worshipping all things thin. The conflict inspired by these two facts has made it even tougher for overweight children to build the confidence required. India has a record 14.4 million obese children, a figure that is second only to China in the world. A problem that has found roots in developed and developing economies alike, childhood obesity has some seriously detrimental effects on the child’s mental framework.

The biggest problem faced by an overweight child is establishing supportive social connections and relationships. Here’s why childhood obesity can directly affect a child’s social interactions:

Lack of Confidence

Being overweight or obese can leave a child shaken and under-confident. Childhood is an impressionable time where children often are still trying to figure themselves out and to face ridicule at this time because of the shape one’s body at this age can leave a lasting negative impression. A study by the University of Missouri points to how being overweight/obesity in children has a direct correlation to academic performance and social skills. At a time when children are judged by peers and the adults in their lives by either their social standing among their friends and their academics, failing to perform to these standards can hurt the child’s already fragile self-esteem.

Stress

Researchers at Penn State and Johns Hopkins University, USA, have found that children who have a heightened response to stress are more likely to be overweight or obese. The research also found that the cortisol levels, the stress inducing hormone, stayed high in children with higher than usual body mass index. Children who show a higher response to stressors are at a greater risk of gaining and retaining the excess weight. Stress can also increase a child’s risk of eating without feeling hunger. This is emotional eating and can only work to increase a child’s weight. This is a vicious cycle which ends in the child seeks comfort in food as a way to shield themselves from their low self-esteem. A similar research was conducted by the Endocrine Society and found the same result, overweight and obese children have higher than normal cortisol and stress hormone levels.

Depressive Tendencies

There are many studies and researches that have showcased that there is a strong correlation between obesity in children and depression. Constant feeling of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and hopelessness can lead to depression in the child. While this is a largely psychological issue, it has strong correlation to a child’s social skills and physical well-being. The child might withdraw even further and lose interest in activities they usually enjoyed. Childhood obesity can be a huge contributing factor to depression and can have some serious long term problems.

Bullying and Discrimination

Overweight children often come to fear the bullying and discrimination that they have come to expect from their peers. This translates into their other relationships as well. If the atmosphere at home is also negative, it just goes to further exacerbate the problem. The constant discrimination faced by obese children at school, on the playground, and sometimes even at home, is something that leaves a deep impression on the child. Children at this age are not given to confiding about their problems pro-actively and parents and caregivers find out about the bullying and resulting hurt well after the fact.

Being overweight or obese is in most cases an outcome of poor lifestyle habits especially eating, sleeping and activity levels. Being overweight or obese is largely reversible by the child and their family transforming their current habits to ones which will help them maintain a healthy life both for them and their children.