I want to raise up a painful and sensitive theme for some parents. If you feel you can face up inappropriate content for you, don´t read it.
Recently I was in a grocery shop and while standing in a long line I heard a dialogue between mother and her child and I was literally shocked. Little girl´s age was about 5 years, but I bet her weight was no less than 25-30 kg. She was really overweight, so was a mother. Mother was punishing a girl for another candy she opened and ate, the lady was very aggressive, so I decided girl took an unpaid candy. A few seconds later I realized that the girl took her mother’s candy and the lady was offended.
I approached them, as my line started to became shorter and checked what they had in their basket. Potato, processed sausages, white bread, butter, fatty ham, 3 frozen pizzas, 2 packages of chocolate candies, gingerbread, 2 types of ketchup and beer. This is all I saw as the rest was buried at the bottom of the basket. After this, the dialogue wasn´t that ridiculous for me anymore. This is the life this family used to live. All eating habits of this family were in this basket. And I had a question in my head to this mother- WTF are you doing? Not with herself, but with a child.
What is Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child’s health or well-being. As methods to determine body fat directly are difficult, the diagnosis of obesity is often based on Body Mass Index. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
The problem is international and is very sharp in several low- and middle-income countries. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, was over 41 million. Almost half of all overweight children under 5 lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.
Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop different diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity is on us and we shouldn´t close our eyes to this problem.
What Causes Childhood Obesity?
Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is being overweight is a medical condition such as a hormonal problem. A physical exam and some blood tests can rule out the possibility of a medical condition as the cause of obesity. But in my opinion, the reasons are in ur unhealthy society and families.
Childhood obesity is mainly associated with unhealthy eating and low levels of physical activity, but the problem is linked not only to children’s behavior but also, increasingly, to social and economic development and policies in the areas of agriculture, transport, urban planning, the environment, food processing, distribution, and marketing, as well as education. As a result, we have:
- Processed and junk food became very easily accessible and easy in cooking.
- Advertising of fast-food restaurants, candies, sweets are so colorful and seductive that we want to try everything.
- People earn less money, but prices for healthy food rising all the time.
- Lack of governmental programs for lobbying a healthy lifestyle.1
- People in some communities have limited resources and limited access to supermarkets.
I don´t think we can influence big manufacturers and their aggressive marketing campaigns. But I think that the immediate and long-term health of children can be improved with the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity through the campaigns designed for them. For example, there are specific campaigns in UK like “Action on Sugar” , “Change4life” or “Let´s Move” campaign in the USA. People should be more aware!
If the child comes from a family of overweight people, he or she may be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high-calorie foods are always available and physical activity is not the priority. That happened to the little girl from the beginning of this article. This is not a little girl´s fault, it is her mother´s responsibility to take care of the physical and psychological health of her child. But unfortunately, the lady can´t even take responsibility for her own health that causes stress for both.
Personal, parental and family stress can increase a child’s risk of obesity. Some children overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions, such as stress, or to fight boredom. Their parents might have similar tendencies. Don´t screen your problems, your low self-esteem, complexes to your children. You don´t want him or her get an eating disorder, mental problems, self-esteem in the future, right?
There are two biological factors that can influence gaining weight, genetics, and hormones.
Yes! Some children are at greater risk of obesity because of genetic factors. They have inherited genes from their parents that make their bodies gain weight easily.
Genetics is not the only cause of obesity. To become obese, children must also eat more calories than they need for growth and energy. But! Bad genetics never say you feed your kid like a pig or forbid him or her to make physical activity. Don´t kill your child and make necessary fixes in your mentality first.
Certain medical conditions can increase a child’s appetite. These include hormone disorders or low thyroid function, and certain medicines, such as steroids or anti-seizure medicines. Over time, any of these can increase the risk of obesity.
People who are obese have hormone levels that encourage the accumulation of body fat. It seems that overeating and lack of regular exercise, over time, ‘reset’ the processes that regulate appetite and body fat distribution to make the person physiologically more likely to gain weight. The body is always trying to maintain balance, so it resists any short-term disruptions such as crash dieting.
Childhood obesity can have complications for your child’s physical, social and emotional well-being.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome.
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Sleep disorders.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Bone fractures.
- Low self-esteem and being bullied.
- Behavior and learning problems.
- Eating disorders
What should we do?
Whether your child is at risk of becoming overweight or is currently at a healthy weight, you can take measures to get or keep things on the right track.
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or avoid them
- Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Eat meals as a family as often as possible
- Limit eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, and when you do eat out, teach your child how to make healthier choices
- Adjust portion sizes appropriately for age
- Limit TV and other “screen time” to less than 2 hours a day for children older than 2, and don’t allow television for children younger than 2
- Be sure your child gets enough sleep
- Visit nutritionist and doctor to get advice
- Start to educate yourself
- Reduce their and your own sedentary time, do sports!
- Make home-made lunches to school
Do not hesitate to ask a lot, to read, be involved in the life of your child.
Do not make mistakes with your children that maybe your parents made with you and their parents made with them. Don´t screen your life, unsatisfaction and bad habits on them. Don´t kill their future, but support and educate them. I had a similar problem in my childhood, and it broke me mentally in my adulthood. Love your children and take care of their health. I don´t believe it is love when you scream at your child that she took your candy. Love can´t hurt!