Is my child obese?
The childhood obesity problem
In England, around 24 million people are now classed as obese and the figures, which have tripled since the 80s, are still rising. Currently, 1 in 5 adults are obese and by 2050 60% of men and 50% of women in the country will be clinically obese. This is a shocking statistic, but what’s more alarming is the number of children who are suffering with obesity. Currently, the figures for obesity in children look like this:
1 in 8 girls (under 20)
8% of boys (under 20)
10% of 6 year-olds
17% of 15 year-olds
By 2050, 25% of all children will be obese
Added to this we are now seeing cases of children developing adult-type diabetes due to being overweight. Diet drugs are being prescribed to adults for obesity so how long until children are popping pills to combat their expanding waistline? The answer to child obesity is in prevention through exercise and a nutritious diet but for many children the problems exist here and now. However, pills are not the answer.
How do I know if my child is obese?
Other than the obvious physical signs of obesity there are a number of psychological problems associated with the condition. Many obese children will have low self-esteem, poor confidence and a lack of energy, enthusiasm and concentration.
Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are resulting in a cultural problems whereby children put pressure on parents to buy them fast food because of aggressive advertising methods and then spend too much time indoors playing on games consoles and computers or watching television. This is all contributing to a fatty diet and an unhealthy lifestyle that ultimately leads to obesity.
One tool to discover if your child is obese is to use the Body Mass Index (BMI). This will give an indication to the weight of your child based on their height and let you know whether they are overweight or underweight. However, it does not diagnose a weight problem on its own as it takes into account the total mass of your child and not muscle mass. Muscle is denser than fat however you should be able to visibly see if your child has more fat than muscle.
What’s your child’s BMI?
Preventing and treating obesity in children
To successfully combat obesity in children the whole family should be involved and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Supporting your child is critical to their success in losing weight so everyone in the household needs to cut out fatty foods, sweets, fizzy drinks and convenience food.
You should try to ensure that everyone has a good nutritious breakfast in the morning and other healthy meals are taken regularly throughout the day. Increase the amount of fruit and veg that everyone eats and grill your food rather than fry it. As a family, you should take regular exercise by either going on walks, bike rides or a weekly trip to the local swimming pool.
These are the essential methods to combating obesity, however your child may have psychological problems that are leading to overeating. Problems such as bullying can be as a result of, or the trigger to, overeating and your child may require professional help from a counsellor or psychotherapist.
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