Obesity in Children

Thanks to massive marketing campaigns junk food is more available thank ever, and unfortunately quite often our kids are paying the toll.

The home made food, prepared with love, is replaced by more caloric and tasty food which unfortunately is rich in anti-nutrients and stimulants that add a burden to the liver in the attempt to detoxify our blood.

Childhood obesity is becoming more common in the United States and other western countries.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, followed two nationally representative groups of children from kindergarten to fifth grade -- around ages 6 to 11. The first group was studied from 1998 to 2004, and the second group was studied from 2010 to 2016.
The difference between the two groups was striking: Around 16.2% of children who did not have weight issues when they entered kindergarten in 2010 were obese by the end of fifth grade, compared with 15.5% of participants in the same BMI category who started in 1998. Additionally, children studied in 2010 became obese at younger ages than their predecessors in the 1998 group.
In both groups, children who were overweight during their preschool years had a significantly higher risk of obesity than their peers who were not, researchers found.
"Once you get on that train towards elevated weight gain, it's really hard to turn it around, so prevention of overweight and obesity really early on are so important," said Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, first author of the study and associate professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta.

Obesity occurs when a person has excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk, according to the World Health Organization. Adults who have a body mass index (BMI) [1] over 30 are considered obese. Childhood obesity is measured not by exact BMI, but by comparison to other children of the same age and sex. Those who are in the 95th percentile of BMI for their age and sex are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity is a major underlying risk factor for many illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and severe cases of Covid-19, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"Without intervention, we will continue to see increasing prevalence and severity of obesity for children at a younger age, which has really negative consequences down the line, not just for these children, but also for their future offspring," said Dr. Jennifer Woo Baidal, director of the Pediatric Obesity Initiative at Columbia University in New York City. She was not involved in the study.

Since the study only followed children until fifth grade, researchers are uncertain how socioeconomic status and race affected rates of obesity once the participants entered sixth grade and beyond. However, based on previous studies on adult obesity, it is likely that children of lower socioeconomic status would have greater rates of adult obesity, said Dr. Venkat Narayan, a senior author of the study and the executive director of the Global Diabetes Research Center at Emory.
"Lack of access to healthy foods, lack of access to physical activity, higher unemployment, all of those factors can collaborate to increase the risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease," Narayan said.

What  can we do about it?
Ideally parents should lead by example, helping their kids to foster exercise a balanced nutrition, and a lifestyle that support the body rather than sabotaging it.

The family is probably the first place where a healthy lifestyle should be promoted.

"What the literature is showing is that the most effective treatment involves family based behavioral treatments, where we're teaching families about behavioral strategies to help change the home environment," said Dr. Kyung Rhee, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego.
It can be helpful for parents and caregivers to emphasize the importance of these habits for the whole family, so that the child does not feel shame or blame for their weight. [2]

[1] https://www.fempton.com/bmi
[2] https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/07/health/childhood-obesity-increase-study-wellness/index.html

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