Effects of Childhood Obesity | Blog Paras Bliss, Panchkula
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What are the Health Effects of Childhood Obesity?

What are the Health Effects of Childhood Obesity?

by: Dr. Sorabh Goel
Consultant - Neonatology-Paras Bliss, Panchkula

Children these days are are growing fat which is a major issue of concern in developed as well as developing countries. The major contributing factor to this is rapidly increasing, cost-effective junk food eating joints which provide service at the doorstep at a very rapid pace. Moreover, the taste of these foods also tempts the children to eat, rather overeat as a result of which they tend to consume food which is rich in fats, or trans fats or complex carbohydrates which contributes to their obesity.

We can say the world is undergoing a rapid nutritional and epidemiological transition. This change is characterized by deficiencies such as iron, zinc, vitamin D leading to anemia rickets and other nutrition-related chronic disorders. If we talk about stats overweight children has tripled over the past 30 years. Several studies from the United States document that out of every five children one is overweight. The Data also documents higher rates in certain groups of populations such as Hispanic (16%), African American (19%), Mexican Americans, and Native Americans.Children are said to be obese when they are above the healthy weight (normal) for their age and height. The causes of excess weight gain in children are similar to those as seen in adults, the major one includes person’s genetics and behavior. The Behavioural and cultural practices which lead to excess weight gain includes eating high calorie, low nutrient foodstuff and beverages, sedentary lifestyle such watching TV, sleep routines, and not getting enough physical activity.

Obesity is associated with early maturation. Furthermore, it is also noted that children who mature early tend to have lower self-esteem.Overweight children often look more mature than their non-overweight peers. This maturity makes the people around them often mistake them as older than their chronologic age and treat them accordingly. This creates an undue expectation that the child can perform at a level which is older than their actual age leading to frustration and a sense of failure. Such expectations are generally not fulfilled. To worsen this situation no one analysis carefully the potential adverse effects of such treatment on the overweight child’s capacity for interaction or socialization. This ultimately makes the child increasingly dependent on family, and therefore increasingly isolated. Eating disorders and weight preoccupation also exist among children and adolescents, particularly females, which may impair the normal regulation of food intake. Psychosocial effects may both contribute to and result from obesity.

MEDICAL CONSEQUENCES OF OBESITY

1.      Overweight children tend to grow faster in terms of being taller, heavier, mature earlier and have advanced bone ages, than non-overweight children.

2.      Hyperlipidaemia is commonly seen in obese children. The characteristic pattern observed consists of elevated serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides and lowered high-density lipoprotein and cholesterol levels.

3.      Glucose Intolerance and diabetes is closely related to obesity. (Metabolic syndrome)

4.      Hepatic Steatosis and Cholelithiasis also observed in fat children. This is due to high concentrations of liver enzymes in obese children and adolescents.

5.      Hypertension occurs with low frequency in children. It is associated with hyperinsulinemia.

1.      Pseudotumor Cerebriit is a rare disorder characterized by increased intracranial (brain) pressure.  It presents with headaches and may lead to severe visual impairment or blindness.Most cases occur before adolescence. Up to 50% of children who present with this syndrome may be obese, but the onset of symptoms does not appear to correlate with weight gain.

2.       Sleep Apnea is another consequence of childhood obesity for which requires an aggressive therapy.

3.      Orthopaedic Complications are often seen in the obese population. This is due to the fact that the tensile strength of bone and cartilage did not evolve to carry substantial quantities of excess weight. Among young children, excess weight can lead to bowing of the tibia and femurs.

4.       Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) is an obesity-associated menstrual irregularities seen in fat females.

FUTURE HEALTH RISKS

  1. Fat children tend to become fat adults. In adults, obesity is associated with increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
  2. Obesity and disease risk factors tend to be more severe in fat children when they become fat adults.

Several of the obesity-associated morbidities in children and adolescents require urgent and aggressive therapy. Furthermore, as severely overweight children and adolescents become more common, the risks of weight-related complications in adulthood will increase. Nonetheless, no consensus exists to indicate how extreme overweight in children and adolescents should be treated.

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