More and more children around the world are becoming obese and at an increased risk of developing lifestyle diseases due to sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. A new analysis published in medical journal The Lancet shows that the global rate of obesity has quadrupled in children and doubled in adults since 1990. One billion people in the world or 1 in 8 of the global population are obese with body mass index (BMI) over 30. Staying glued to the screens and the increased intake of junk food are some of the factors that seem to be speeding up obesity in kids. (Also read | Global malnourishment: 1 in 8 people are obese)

World Obesity Day 2024: Childhood obesity is a serious issue. Being overweight in childhood is a medical condition that may affect children and adolescents. (Shutterstock)
World Obesity Day 2024: Childhood obesity is a serious issue. Being overweight in childhood is a medical condition that may affect children and adolescents. (Shutterstock)

Parents must address childhood obesity as the extra weight in kids can eventually lead to adult complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint issues, liver diseases that can impact their life expectancy. Staying up late in the night to watch screen, not going out to play and avoiding vegetables and fruits can be problematic and cause obesity in younger kids and adolescents.

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“Being overweight in childhood is a serious medical condition that may affect children and adolescents. Such children are more likely to become overweight even in their adulthood. Obesity may make them more prone to an increased risk of developing numerous health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. In addition, they may also face the adverse health effects of childhood obesity like cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), breathing problems (asthma, obstructive sleep apnoea), joint pain, hormonal changes and a reduced life expectancy into adulthood,” says Dr Sanjeev Dutta, HOD and Sr. Consultant – Neonatology & Paediatrics, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

Causes of childhood obesity

Inactive lifestyle, wrong eating choices and reduction in outdoor activities are the primary reasons behind childhood obesity.

“Today the majority population of children spend substantial hours engaged in sedentary behaviours like playing video games, browsing the internet, or watching television. It has increased their screen time and reduced their daily outdoor activities leading to a lack of physical exercise, exacerbating the obesity epidemic. The easy accessibility and consumption of sugary sodas and snacks laden with unhealthy fats, regular consumption of high-calorie foods such as fast foods, baked goods and vending machine snacks is also making your child more prone to weight gain. Eating Candy and desserts may also raise the rates of childhood obesity,” adds Dr Dutta.

How to prevent childhood obesity

To curb obesity in children and adolescents, certain measures should be taken:

Balanced diet: While children prefer to eat junk food and desserts, it is imperative for parents to encourage them to eat nutrient-filled foods and minimise consumption of processed food. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can nourish the body well and reduce chances of obesity and lifestyle diseases.

Say no to processed foods: Healthy habits must be inculcated in children early on and to dissuade them from eating unhealthy stuff, parents must start eating healthy food themselves. One should cut down the intake of fast foods, sugary sodas, candy and processed snacks.

Enrol them in a sports activity: To combat sedentary behaviours, physical activities for children in schools and communities should be prioritised. Try to encourage your child to play outdoor games and get them enrolled in a sports activity like football and cricket to improve their fitness levels.

Reduce screen time: Find more activities for your children to keep them engaged. It is important to limit their screen time.

Ensure sound sleep for your child: Sleep deprivation may cause hormonal imbalances leading to increased appetite. Hence parents should ensure their children have a sound sleep daily.


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