Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges in this present century. Unhealthy diet and modern lifestyle often start the children on the path to obesity and its related health problems like diabetes, hypertension, respiratory disorders and arthritis.
Children can become obese for a variety of reasons:
- Genetic factors: Sometimes obesity can be hereditary or genetic. It is usually seen that children of obese parents are usually obese
- Lack of exercise or physical activity – Sedentary lifestyle, children increasing involvement in gadgets, lack of outdoor games increases the hour of inactivity in children, thus making them obese.
- Unhealthy eating patterns- Overeating, use of excessive oil, overindulging in unhealthy and junk food is another reason why obesity runs in families.
- Emotional problems- children having some relationship issues can also get into binge-eating.
- Hormonal disorders: In rare cases, children might be having hormonal disturbances resulting in weight gain. Dr. Kapil Agrawal, one of the leading bariatric surgeon in Delhi, India advises that children growing obese should undergo evaluation to rule out any hormonal disturbances as early as possible.
How do I know if my child is overweight?
TThe global method of determining your obesity levels is BMI which is a ratio of child weight and height. However, it is always advisable to consult your doctor as he will also consider child’s age and growth patterns.
An individual with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is clinically classified as overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese.
Steps to prevent obesity:
Dietary Management is most vital step in prevention of obesity. Eat healthy and avoid junk food. We should not restrict calorie intake too much because of growing age of children so a carefully planned meal is a must after understanding food demands as per his age. We at Habilite Clinics have a team of dedicated dieticians who can address child’s needs and design a customized diet plan for them.
Increasing physical activity is a must to reduce weight and more importantly to maintain it. It is recommended that children above 5 years of age should involve in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Maintain a dedicated time for playing with gadgets and watching television. gadgets. Do not let these Smart phones, PSPs, Video games rule and ruin your child life. Parents should play role models here by refraining themselves from such gadgets- you can’t ask your child to watch TV for one hour if you yourself are watching it for whole day.
‘Children learn more by observing parents rather than by listening to them.’
Be supportive to your child by talking to your child regularly about their obesity and listening to their concerns. Talk to their teachers and stay connected with them to assess child performance. Be sensitive to your child needs. There might be some activities which your child may not be comfortable to perform and feel embarrassed about it.
Developing a new hobby not only boosts self esteem and confidence in child but it also acts as a stress buster. If children can enjoy some physical activity, nothing like that.
Involving the entire family in accomplishing weight loss goals is very necessary as child does not feel singled out. Overall increasing family physical activity, nurturing healthy eating habits among all family members, planning swimming, cycling for whole family gives children very positive reinforcement to develop these habits permanently.
Role of bariatric surgery:
Accordingly to an article published in J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012;54:125-135), bariatric surgery should be considered in children and adolescents who have severe co-morbidities such as non- alcoholic fatty liver disease or whose BMI is more than 50.
Although conventional methods like lifestyle modification and diet are the mainstays of current management of childhood obesity and its medical complications, long term-results are “often disappointing," especially in severe obese children. Studies have shown that "in carefully selected patients a timely intervention by bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery can strongly reduce the risk of adulthood obesity and obesity-related conditions," including fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea.
The most commonly performed bariatric procedures among children are sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and mini gastric bypass. All the surgeries yield excellent results in terms of weight loss and resolution of co-morbidities but thorough evaluation of patient helps in assessing the best bariatric procedure for the patient.
At Habilite Clinics, our team always take into consideration the physical, psychological maturity of the child, previous measures taken by child and its family at weight loss, emotional stability of child and ability to adhere to follow-up care.
Dr. Kapil Agrawal is one of the best bariatric surgeon and he along with his team have been regularly managing obese children.