Lost at sea? The perils of childhood obesity

In the last 10 years, the number of overweight people in industrialized countries has increased significantly - so much so that obesity has been called an "epidemic" by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the past, many people thought that obesity was simply caused by over-eating and under-exercising due to a lack of will power and self-control. Today, doctors recognize that obesity is a serious medical problem due to multiple factors: genetic, environmental, behavioural, and social. All these factors play a role in determining a person's weight. It is estimated that 26% of Canadian children and youth ages 2 to 17 are considered overweight or obese.

Research has shown that television viewing has been associated with obesity in children of all ages (preschool-aged, school-aged, and adolescents). Obesity is even more common if there is a television in the child's bedroom.

Obesity is associated with many different complications:

  • psychological problems (lack of self-esteem, depression)
  • breathing disorders (especially while asleep)
  • bone and joint problems
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • gall bladder or liver disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke (mainly in adults)
  • heart disease (mainly in adults)
  • some kinds of cancer (mainly in adults)

The diagnosis of obesity is usually based on physical examination and a patient history (i.e., eating and exercise habits). Children are considered "medically obese" when their weight poses health risks. The degree of obesity is often measured using the body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated as follows:

BMI = body weight (kg) ÷ height² (m)
Example: if your 4-year-old son weighs 40 lbs., which is 18 kg, and is 38 inches tall, which is 95 cm or 0.95 m, you divide 18 by (0.95 × 0.95). The result is 19.9.

The normal ranges for BMI are different for boys and girls of different ages. If you are concerned about your child's weight, you should consult your doctor or healthcare professional. He or she will compare your child's BMI result to a standard growth chart, and will then be able to tell whether your child should start weight loss therapy.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Childhood-Obesity