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Obesity in Children

Obesity in Children Of late, childhood obesity is becoming a growing concern for many parents especially in the developed countries of the world. It is the condition where excess body fat adversely impacts a child's health or well being. A review of childhood obesity statistics shows that this problem has become more acute in last 20 to 30 years. About 5% of children in age group of 2 to 5 years were found to be obese in a 1971-74 survey. As per a survey conducted in 2003-2004, this percentage increased to 13.9%.

Causes of obesity in children:
There can be many factors that lead to obesity in children. However the three primary causes that largely contribute to obesity may be summarized as:

Lifestyle: Thanks to the growing use of computers, the multi-channel television, the advanced gadgets, most of the children have turned into couch potatoes. They would rather prefer to play an action oriented computer game in the comforts of their house, than a game of basket ball or soccer in the neighborhood park. Children fail to get adequate physical exercise due to excessive involvement in rather torpid activities.

Diet Imbalance: The increasing popularity of junk food and snacks among kids is another major cause of obesity. Burgers, pasta, pizza, cakes, sodas, ice-creams and cookies are the favorite foods of children. The high caloric content of these food items coupled with the already sedentary lifestyle, increases the possibility of obesity. In fact it creates a major dietary imbalance due to the deficiency of healthy nutrients in this kind of junk food. Snacking between meals is another bad habit that may eventually increase the fat intake of children.

Genetic Factors: Obesity may be a hereditary problem for many children. Abnormal metabolism or the body's inability to burn excessive fat may be inherited from the father or mother.

Irrespective of the factors that cause obesity, the harmful effects of this problem should not be underestimated. The social stigma associated with obesity can lead to a lot of stress, anxiety and depression in children. The increasing consciousness about personal looks or over all personality puts a lot of pressure on children who want to look their best among peer groups.

Childhood obesity, if not treated or prevented at an early stage can also cause more serious health problems like hypertension, coronary heart diseases, diabetes, skin infections, sleep disorders, and even life threatening cancer. The high cholesterol level in obese children is a direct factor that can cause high blood pressure and cardiac heart arrest in severe cases.

Taking into consideration the harmful impacts of obesity in children, it is important to ensure that the child leads a healthy lifestyle with a proper dietary intake and sufficient physical exercise. The meals of children require considerable attention and adequate nutrients must be present in food. The intake of a protein, calcium, mineral rich diet is necessary for proper growth of bones and natural resistance of the body against common diseases. Nutrient rich food such as milk, whole grains, fruits and vegetables must be given in some form. Parents must keep in check on the junk food consumption of the child.

Apart from this, there should be plenty of physical exercise that not only helps to burn calories but also keeps the child active and energetic.
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