Childhood obesity is a public health concern in the United States. Since 1970, the percentage of obese children has gone up by more than three times. In school going children aged 6 to 19 years, one in five children is obese. A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 57 percent of the U.S. children will turn out to be obese by the age of 35, with increasing childhood obesity rates being one of the reasons behind it.
The study pooled height and weight data from five studies, with the data pool comprising 41,500 children and adults. Using computer simulation, the researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health created virtual populations of youth up to age 19 years, representing 2016 population. Consequently, they extrapolated the height and weight of these children for up to age 35. The researchers established that most of the American children were likely to be obese by their mid-thirties and thus, childhood obesity will continue to remain a major public health concern in the US. Obesity predisposes an individual to the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, along with reducing the life-expectancy by nearly 8 percent.
There is more to obesity than exercise and nutrition
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), physicians strive to use the best tools for addressing obesity, but many of them are found to have a discriminatory and stigmatizing attitude toward obese children. While exercise and adequate nutrition are cornerstones of obesity management, it is indispensable to have a positive mindset as well. Millions of children fail to inculcate this attitude because of ridicule and bullying that they have to suffer with because of their obesity, and this acts as an impediment to their weight loss efforts.
Holistic approach needed to achieve weight loss
Children are impressionable and sensitive. Thus, their obesity concern must be addressed in a way that they do not feel ridiculed and ostracized. Parents should be their children’s advocate and if the physician’s approach toward the obesity defeats the purpose of visiting him, parents must share the same with the physician.
It is important to note that overweight or obese children have a high susceptibility to depression compared to normal weight kids, according to a previous study. As parents, doctors and caregivers, it is our utmost duty to talk to our children in a way that they do not feel threatened or an outcast because this can cause a downward spiral and the child may develop mental disorders or a substance abuse disorder (as a coping mechanism). If you see that your child is too stressed out due to his or her obesity issues, maybe it is about time that you provided him or her with professional support.
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