Child Safety - Miller & Zois

Fight Back Against Childhood Obesity

Child with ObesitySince the 1970s, childhood obesity has increased significantly. According to a 2017 National Center for Health Statistics study, data from 2015-2016 showed that almost 1 in 5 grade school children are obese. It has been increasing because of the amount of cheap, unhealthy food out there. In addition, people live more sedentary lifestyles than they have in the past. Increased rates of childhood obesity might result in American children of today having shorter lifespans than their parents.

But the psychological stress of social stigma imposed on a fat child may be just as damaging as physical morbidities. Children as young as six describe the silhouette of an obese child as 'lazy', 'dirty', 'stupid', 'ugly', 'liar', and 'cheat' more often than drawing of other body shapes.. It is often seen that obese children suffer from bullying - victim, poor self-esteem, and behavior problems.

Studies bear out this thesis. Relationship problems was higher among obese (23.5 percent) than among normal weight (14.4 percent) and overweight (14.8 percent) children. Conversely, the prevalence of obesity was higher among children with emotional disorders such as inability to learn and unhappiness or depression (16.9 per cent), than without these issues (13.7 per cent).

This underscores the harm and risks of childhood obesity and why it important that both you and your child take steps to maintain the healthiest possible weight under all of the relevant circumstances.

What is Obesity?

Being obese means having an excessive amount of body fat that presents a serious health risk. To determine whether or not one is obese, use the Body Mass Index (BMI) which utilizes height-to-weight proportions to determine the amount of tissue mass in individuals. A BMI greater than 25 indicates one is overweight, while a BMI greater than 30 indicates one is obese.

The difference between the two is that being overweight means having more weight than a normal person of the same height, while being obese means having an excess amount of body fat in addition to excess weight.

Causes of Obesity

There are different causes for obesity. They include a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, and genetics. Inform yourself about these causes, as it helps determine measures you and your child can take to prevent and treat it.

Childhood obesity has increased partly because children today do less physical activity than in the past. Increased popularity of television, computers, and video games has led to a more sedentary lifestyle for children and adolescents. In addition, decreased physical education in schools resulted in fewer opportunities for children to exercise.

The shift in diets that increasingly consist of energy-dense foods high in fat and sugars, yet low in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, has also contributed to the increase in childhood obesity. The amount of calories people consume each year has gone up significantly. Poor diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle may result in obesity because the calories consumed is stored as fat, instead of being burned off through physical activity.

In addition, people are more likely to eat out than eat in because of the convenience it provides. Much of modern life requires one to spend a significant amount of their waking hours at work or school. As a result, people have less time and patience to cook healthy meals. They are more likely to eat out more often because they do not want to spend the effort of preparing their own meals.

However, this can lead to weight gain because of large portion sizes and high trans-fat and sugar contents found in meals prepared at restaurants and other food establishments.

One's genetics and family can play a role in childhood obesity. Children whose parents are obese are more likely to be affected as well. Some people are genetically predisposed to storing significant amounts of fat in their bodies than others, which increases the likelihood

of becoming obese. In addition, learned behaviors from parents can affect a child's weight. Children of individuals with poor eating and lifestyle habits are likely to imitate their parents.

Health Risks

Obesity poses serious health risks for your child. They are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Type 2 diabetes has become more increasingly common in children and young adults.

Historically, it has been primarily diagnosed in older individuals. Type 2 diabetes in children increases their risk of getting heart disease and kidney failure. In addition, childhood obesity can make it more difficult for one to breathe or sleep. Increased fat around the torso decreases the amount of the surface area for lungs to expand. This can increase the risk of having or exacerbating asthma, making it very difficult to breathe. Each of these conditions can cause serious long-term effects for your child that can last through the rest of their life.

Childhood Obesity and Mental Health

While obesity is harmful to your child's physical health, it can also harm your child's mental health. Obese children are more likely to be teased and bullied more than their normal weight peers. Your child might also experience significant social isolation. The effects of teasing and bullying from peers can affect your child's long-term psyche. Obese children are also more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem as a result.

Determining Whether or not Your Child is Obese

Before you can determine whether or not your child suffers from obesity, consult your healthcare provider. They will give a professional and comprehensive diagnosis of your child's physical well-being. Do not make assumptions on your child's weight levels. Never put your child on a diet or a strict regimen, unless instructed to do so by a certified health care professional. Determining whether or not your child is overweight or obese can be difficult because their bodies undergo growth spurts. While your child may appear obese, a growth spurt can correct your child's height-to-weight proportions. Always seek a health care professional before taking any course of action pertaining to weight control.

Measures You can Take

The most important thing you can do for your child is to take preventative measures that ensure that your child maintains a healthy weight. These measures include developing healthy eating habits and doing physical activity. However, you and your child must do them together, as maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong affair. By taking these measures yourself, you are leading by example on how to take care of one's own physical health.

Healthy Eating

Develop healthy eating habits for your children. Cook at home more often, as you can make meals with healthy ingredients of your choosing. Create meals with a healthy balance of fats, carbs, and protein that are appropriate for you and your child's lifestyle. Ingredients you should use include vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains. Choose lean meats such as poultry and fish, which are low in unhealthy fats yet high in protein. Serve reasonably sized portions for you and your child.

Make sure to limit the amount of high-fat and high-sugar foods you and your children eat. Excessive consumption of fat can raise the amount of LDL cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Excessive consumption of sugar significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

As many snack foods are high in sugars and unhealthy fats, find healthier alternatives for you and your child to snack on. Instead of candy, have your child eat fruits, fresh or dried, which can satisfy their sweet cravings. Instead of soda, have them drink unsweetened iced tea or bottled water, which will hydrate and refresh them. Nuts are a great alternative to other savory snacks such as potato chips or cheese curls. Cheese sticks are also an excellent snack for your child, as they are high in both calcium and protein. With these options, snacking does not have to be unhealthy.

However, while your child should consume primarily "healthy" foods, do not forbid them from consuming high sugar or high fat foods. This can backfire by giving your child the impression that these foods are a "forbidden fruit." Your child could rebel by eating these kinds of foods secretly. Instead, let them eat a small quantity of high-sugary or high-fat foods once in a while. High-fat and high-sugar foods become a problem when they become a significant part of one's diet.

Also, and this is the one people really miss, is experiment with what works. You child is special and unique. Some things are going to work for your child that do not work for other children. With a doctor's blessing, try different things to find the best path.

Physical Activity

Healthy eating habits are not the only way that you can prevent your child from becoming obese. Physical activity allows your child to remain fit and healthy. It strengthens bones and muscle, decreases blood pressure, and reduces stress. It also helps burn excess calories that could have been stored as fat if one does not exercise. Your child must spend at least 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity. These include brisk walking, playing tag, playing soccer, or biking.

Limit the amount of sedentary activity that your child does daily. While homework and reading time should be encouraged, your child must not spend more than two hours per day watching television, playing video games, and surfing the web. The less time your child spends doing these activities, the less likely they will become obese.


If your child suffers from obesity, you can take steps to make sure that your child loses weight. Consult a nutritionist who specializes in children's diets. They can suggest the best course of action which includes improving your child's eating habits. Encourage your child to get more exercise if they currently live a sedentary lifestyle. Increasing your child's physical activity helps reduce the amount of fat stored in their body. Keep your child informed on how they can improve their own lifestyle, as this can lead to a lifetime of remaining healthy once your child controls their weight.