Childhood obesity is defined as a child who has a BMI “at the same level or higher than 95 percent of their peers’. BMI is a scale which takes into account the subjects’ height and weight, however, in children, this number is also sex and age specific.
There are many factors which lead up to a child being classed as obese and most of these which we will take you through, are preventable.
1. Family History
Studies show that 25-40% of a childs BMI is inherited through genetics. Having Obesity run in the family is something that would definitely work against a child, however, it is not straight forward to say that if the disease runs in the family Obesity is a certainty. This will just mean that extra precautions will have to be taken with that particular child in terms of keeping a close eye on their diet and activity regime.
This is probably the most important factor in the rise of childhood obesity. Children, in general, want quick, convenient food and this is typically ‘junk food’ which comes with a high sugar and salt price tag. Examples such as sweets, crisps, fizzy drinks and biscuits are the obvious culprits for overweight children.
Shocking to many parents is also the fact that seemingly hearty sometimes even ‘healthy’ ready meals such as Shephards’ pies, pasta bakes and pizzas can contain over half of a child’s daily allowance of sugar, salt and fat.
Even though it may be time-consuming and cost considerably more, making these meals from scratch could be a simple way for you to monitor what the children around you are actually consuming. Items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, brown rice and along with lean meats are sure to provide a healthy balanced meal.
3. Activity time
In recent years the amount of time that children spend in front of a TV/laptop/ games console has risen to 32 hours between the ages of 2 and 5 or 28 hours per week for ages 6-11. This is directly linked with children not getting enough exercise annually. Children generally have more energy to burn than us adults which means that we could be tempted to subdue them with television sets, however, this is doing them much more harm than good for us to have a quieter household.
Group activities such as going to a playground, dancing, playing football, horse riding and swimming each week are all excellent ways for your child to get enough exercise during their week so that they won’t be tipping the scales if they do fancy spending a few hours in front of the TV.
4. Emotional factors
As food is something that is very easily turned into a dependency item it is important to keep a watchful eye over children that may have suffered any form of emotional distress. Simple ways of doing this is to have snacks such as sweets given only as treats and kept in a secure cupboard. Some kids tend to eat when they are feeling down or struggling with issues.
As they are still children they in most cases aren’t exposed to a world of other substances to self-medicate, although the natural human urge will still be there and food is the most readily available item for them.