Child Obesity

What is it?

Child obesity refers to proportionally high body fat in children or adolescents. Technically this is defined as being at or above the 95th percentile of the Body Mass Index.

Why does it concern you?

It is a a serious issue with both health and social consequences. Children classified as obese, tend to have a significant increase in health problems, especially type 2 diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. Sleep apnea, the absence of breathing during sleep, occurs in about 7 percent of obese children.

Society can make it very difficult for overweight children, problems can come from friends or strangers, and include teasing, hurtful comments,  a perception of laziness or inactivity.  Girls who develop a negative body image are at greater risk of developing eating disorders.

What you should do?

If your child reaches the criteria for obesity, it is highly recommended that the child be given a comprehensive medical exam, to check for characteristic health problems.

The cause of obesity can be both genetic and psychological.  According to the journal Pediatrics, treatment generally consists of medically supervised diet management and encouragement of physical activity. Good parenting skills and ongoing professional support are the foundation of successful treatment and maintenance of new behaviors.

You can expect your medical professional to recommend preparing meals that are in proper proportion, avoid high calorie foods and be disciplined in snack foods. Additionally, he will recommend as much as an hour per day of aerobic activities.