Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition

Childhood obesity is not only associated with a higher risk of getting disease and premature death, but is also accompanied by many other medical conditions during childhood.

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. The high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, and micronutrient-poor foods, that are lower in nutrient quality are to be blamed for this scenario. Sometimes a child may be eating the right type and amount of food but lack physical activity, because of which they put on weight. The problem is global. Based on 2015 WHO reports, the number of overweight children under the age of five, was estimated to be over 42 million. Also almost half of all overweight children under 5 live in Asia and one quarter in Africa. If WHO is to be believed, If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.

Global obese population aged 0-5 years in million

  • Overall boys and girls ages 2 to 19 have similar obesity rates
  • overweight = one standard deviation body mass index for age and sex
  • obese = two standard deviations body mass index for age and sex (according to WHO)
  • It has been pointed out that the metabolic changes triggered by obesity closely resemble the changes in energy metabolism occurring in hibernating

Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term impacts on physical, social, and emotional health

  • Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases
  • They are prone to diseases such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and risk factors for heart disease
  • Children with obesity are bullied and teased more than their normal peers
  • Childhood obesity also is associated with having obesity as an adult
  • Develop skinconditions such as heat rash, fungal infections, and acne
  • Children experiences low cardio-respiratory fitness
  • Children experiences increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • Probability is there to develop Orthopedic problems such as Blount’s disease and slipped capital femoral epiphysis
  • Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight
  • Overweight kids may be taller and more sexually mature than their peers
  • Overweight girls may have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in adulthood

 Factors that contribute to childhood obesity

More than 90% of cases are idiopathic; less than 10% are associated with hormonal or genetic causes

Factors that contribute to childhood obesity

How do I know whether my child has obesity ?

Body mass index, or BMI, is a widely used screening tool for measuring both overweight and obesity. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters (kg/m2). BMI is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method. BMI is interpreted differently for children and teens. BMI levels among children and teens are expressed relative to other children of the same sex and age. Online tools are available. Waist circumference may also be useful in clinical practice as a means of determining a child or adolescent’s response to weight control measures. The doctor will also consider child’s age and growth patterns.

Measure Height and Weight of your child at home accurately (click here to follow guidelines to take measurement accurately) . And then enter the value to an online BMI tool

Online BMI tool


How Can I Help My Overweight Child? 

Up to 80 percent of children affected by obesity will continue to be affected by obesity into adulthood

Parenting style has an impact on children’s lifestyle and emotional well being, with a subsequent impact on weight.

  • Parents should not set children apart because of their weight
  • Parents should focus on slowly changing their family’s physical activity and eating habits
  • Be the role model. If your children see that you are physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active for the rest of their lives
  • Plan family activities that provide everyone with exercise, like walking, biking, or swimming
  • Be sensitive to your child’s needs. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities.
  • Reduce time spend in sedentary activities, such as watching TV or playing video games
  • Limit television and video watching time to a maximum of 2 hours per day
  • Encourage child to take part in games and sports or even playing with them
  • Send to a school that has health-promoting activities

Childhood Obesity Treatment

Childhood obesity treatment is decided based on child’s age and if he or she has other medical conditions.  Treatment included medications and weight-loss surgery.

Drugs approved for treatment:

Drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat obesity include phentermine, phendimetrazine, benzphetamine, diethylpropion (appetite suppressants), and orlistat (intestinal lipase inhibitor); however, most clinicians prescribe orlistat. Orlistat acts by decreasing hydrolysis of ingested triglycerides and reducing gastrointestinal absorption of fat by approximately 30% via inhibition of intestinal lipases. When studied in children, orlistat decreased BMI by 0.5 to 4.2 kg/m2 compared with either placebo or baseline.


Many adolescents are turning to Bariatric surgery as a treatment for obesity, even though the long-term success rate, consequences and risks for the pediatric population are still unknown. Also it is not known how bariatric surgeries performed before completion of puberty and epiphyseal fusion will affect neuroendocrine, skeletal and psychosocial maturation.

Current recommendations are that adolescents with a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 and comorbidities of obesity, and those with a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2, regardless of the presence of comorbidities, be considered for bariatric surgery. The two most commonly used and well-studied procedures for adolescents are the adjustable gastric band and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Gastric bypass surgery has been shown to be the most effective for optimal weight loss, while the gastric band has been found to have a lower incidence of operative and postoperative complications.

4 Responses

  1. When I was a child growing up in the 1960’s and ’70s it was unusual to see overweight kids either at my school or just anywhere in town. Now it is true; you can see them in most places. Often accompanied by their overweight parents. Kids learn food choices and lifestyles from their families. it is a very sad development.

    • PanagiaAdmin says:

      Very true. It’s the fast life, lack of time to prepare good home food and cravings for Junk food that’s leading to overweight generation

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