Childhood obesity is defined as excess body fat compared to body mass, and the best way to measure obesity is what is known as BMI. BMI is calculated by calculating a person’s height and weight, which gives an approximate indication of the percentage of body fat.
Childhood obesity… one of the dilemmas of the times!
The number of obese or overweight children in the world is increasing continuously, and this increase in weight is due to consuming more calories than the child burns throughout the day. Although some believe that it is easy to tell if a person is obese just by looking at him, it is not that simple. In fact, parents often do not realize whether their children are obese, and some may wonder how the individual does not realize whether he is obese or not, as there are different opinions about the specifications they put in the ideal body. And all of us, whether we are children or adults, our bodies are very different. Specialists have developed objective and specific criteria to measure obesity rates, regardless of shape, age or gender.
Childhood obesity is defined as excess body fat compared to body mass, and the best way to measure obesity is what is known as BMI. BMI is calculated by calculating a person’s height and weight, which gives an approximate indication of the percentage of body fat. Since the general body fat rate varies with age, the BMI is related to the agreed age and sex criteria that were reached after conducting several surveys on children up to the age of twenty.
According to the opinions of specialists, children with a body mass index of more than 85% are classified as overweight, while children with a body mass index of more than 95% are classified as obese.
Studies conducted in 2009 indicate that approximately 16% of children between the ages of six and nineteen are overweight, and unfortunately, these percentages have increased significantly over the past years. The most worrying results are those related to adolescents (children from 12 to 19 years old) because they are more likely to become obese when they grow up, and this means that they are more likely to suffer from various diseases due to childhood obesity.
Many factors contribute to the increase in the number of obese children in the world and our Arab region. Despite some evidence indicating that genetic factors play a large role in the amount of food that children eat, the most important reasons for this phenomenon are related to the individual’s personal behavior and eating habits.
There is no doubt that children are consuming far more calories and fat than ever before.
Children eat a lot of fast foods that are high in fat and calories (such as granola bars, frozen pizza, chicken bacon, etc.).
Children often eat out at fast-food restaurants and tend to order meals that are high in fat, such as french fries, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and milkshakes.
Meal sizes served in restaurants continue to increase and children often eat adult-size meals even if they choose that meal from the children’s menu.
The spread of food vending machines in public places and schools as well, and although the availability of food is not a bad thing, especially since children need foods rich in energy, unfortunately, these machines provide foods rich in fat and calories.
Although care is taken to apply appropriate nutritional programs and national recommendations for heart-healthy foods to school meals, most schools still serve foods high in fat.
Kids consuming lots of soda and juice every day adds a lot of sugar and calories to their diets.
Reducing the frequency of children’s exercise reduces the chances of burning those calories.
Children spend most of their time watching TV, using a computer, playing video games and other activities that do not consume as much energy as physical activities, such as cycling, running, and swimming. Studies have shown a close relationship between watching TV and childhood obesity (a person who constantly sits and eats a lot of food).
Reducing the budgets of physical education in schools.
Some children are in unsafe neighborhoods and therefore cannot play.
Some children being alone at home after school time leads to a lack of exercise and an increased intake of calorie-rich meals.
Childhood obesity increases the risk of health problems in childhood and later, such as bone problems, sleep disorders, gallstones, diabetes, and kidney diseases, and some researchers even believe that there is a direct relationship between weight gain and asthma.
In addition, children who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, and long-term obesity leads to heart disease, arthritis, and some types of cancer.
You should consult your pediatrician if you feel that your child is gaining weight. The doctor first measures the height and weight of your child to calculate the general body mass index and then compares it with the standard rates, which take into account your child’s body type, age, and weight. The doctor may decide what weight your child should be. In most cases, doctors do not recommend adjusting children’s diet as a way to lose weight, but rather advise them to maintain their current weight while they grow taller.
Fortunately, there are some things that parents can do to avoid childhood obesity, and these generally include the whole family eating a healthy diet and increasing exercise.
encouragement to exercising for at least 15 to 30 minutes daily.
Plan family activities that include exercises, such as cycling, hiking, and swimming.
Limit TV and computer use to one hour per day.
Eat as a family as much as possible and don’t watch TV while eating.
Use low-fat or completely fat-free milk (except for children under two years old) as well as use low-fat dairy products and cheese.
Drink water instead of soda or juice.
Limiting the amount of fried or high-fat food that is allowed to be eaten.
Rely on healthy cooking methods, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, and replacing frying oil with Tefal cookware or cooking spray.
Eat vegetables and fruits at least five times a day.
Have fruits and vegetables on hand and serve them in place of sweets, chips, ice cream, etc., as a high-fat food.
Remove fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry products before cooking.
Avoid using sauces or salad dressings (such as butter, margarine, and mayonnaise).
Determine the times when you and your family eat in restaurants.
When eating out, choose low-fat foods, for example, order a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a fried hamburger, salad instead of french fries, and pasta with sauce instead of pepperoni pizza.
Don’t reduce your child’s calorie intake too much. He still needs three nutritious meals throughout the day and one or two snacks, to have enough energy to play, learn and be able to grow fully. In addition, children should not follow popular diets because such diets may overlook important nutrients for children and cause them diseases.
The pediatrician can provide you with the necessary information about the appropriate nutrition for your child if he is overweight and thus protects him from the risk of childhood obesity. Sometimes your child’s pediatrician may refer your child to a nutritionist if changing his eating habits fails to lose weight.
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