Treating Childhood Obesity
Our lifestyles have drastically changed from a time when our children spent most of their time outdoors, running and playing with friends. Our children are right now in the habit of spending massive amounts of time on indoor entertainment including excessive TV watching, video games and computer work. In addition, as more families became dual income producing, the frequency of preparing home cooked nutritious meals has dropped in favor of fast food and less healthy options. The end result is that 1 in 3 children in the U.S. suffer from obesity.
A number of parents visit our center to help their children overcome this condition and at Village Pediatrics we have spent considerable time with such families. Our goal is always to bring about a happier and healthier lifestyle for all patients.
What is Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity is a condition when young children are substantially heavier than the maximum weight for their height and age. It is usually measured by body mass index and ranges have been determined to assess underweight and overweight children.
Obesity should be controlled and prevented as apart from the health conditions that can result such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Children suffering obesity may also have extreme low self esteem and in many cases depression as a result.
Assessing if your Child is Obese
The most common measure to assess if your child is obese is to use the body mass index (BMI) calculation tool. BMI uses a combination of a person’s height and weight to assess the quantity of body fat. Charts are available to assess if your child falls into one of four categories – underweight, normal, overweight and obese.
BMI has also been criticized for being a less than accurate tool to assess obesity and should be used only as an indicator. For example it is not useful when the child is going through puberty as this is a time of rapid body changes.
Obesity is easy enough to recognize and you suspect that your child is overweight and falls into this category, you should make an appointment with us to assess if he or she is suffering from any associated conditions and to also learn how to manage the problem.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
The most common cause of childhood obesity is poor diet and lack of exercise. Junk food has become the staple diet of many a young person, which packs on the pounds considerably. In addition, the way in which children entertain themselves has changed drastically. Watching TV has replaced playing sports and outdoor stimulation has been dropped in favor of video games. The lack of exercise plays a major part in the obesity trend.
Genes also is a major factor. They determine body types and metabolism rate but the larger factor is lifestyle patterns.
Treatment for Childhood Obesity
When you consult one of our doctors for your child’s obesity problem, he will probably elect to run a few tests to assess if the weight has caused any medical problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. A common practice is to review the child’s eating and exercise patterns to understand what needs to be amended. Treatment usually involves recommending an appropriate dietary change which should be combined with some kind of exercise plan in addition to follow-up appointments to monitor progress.