Obesity in Children

Body Mass Index provides the exact weight that an individual should have corresponding to his height. Once the weight exceeds to a certain amount, then we can consider, obesity. Obesity is a surfeit of fat in the body. In the past these has been prevalent to older population but now, the younger population competes with the census. Since obesity is considered a predisposing factor to many illnesses and diseases, a reflective effect on the child’s life can be obvious. The risk to having numerous maladies comes too soon and could influence both the physical and psychosocial aspects (developmental stages of life) of life.

Causes

  1. Genetics – there have been studies pointing obesity to be associated with genes, if a child is with an obese parent or sibling, most likely the child will be obese as well, however, genes alone could not cause obesity.
  2. Diet – lots of food choices are available in the market and a lot of bad choices happen as well. Healthy foods are being shunned in exchange for junks and processed food which are high n fat, salt, cholesterol and calories. At the same time, the eating patterns of the child greatly affect weight.
  3. Sedentary lifestyles – the availability of televisions, computers and a lot more technological advances affect the lifestyles of these children. Instead of playing or exercising, they choose to sit and watch television or play computer games. This activity also encourages more intake of food.
  4. Hormonal imbalance – may be rare but may be a predisposing factor of obesity, hormone correction might just be the intervention.

Assessment

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) – this is a table that enables one to assess weight relative to height. This is weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared.
    • At the 85th percentile and above, children are at risk for overweight
    • At the 95th percentile or above, they are overweight
    • Those children above the 95th percentile are considered as obese
    • Body fat percentage – usually difficult to assess but is considered the marker of obesity. Skin fold thickness is measured and is evaluated:
      • Boys – over 25% fat
      • Girls – over 32% fat
      • Waist circumference – measured through the abdominal girth, if the value obtained was greater than the 90th percentile for the child’s age and gender, then the risk of having weight related conditions and complications is high.

Treatment

  1. Parents should be of help and support in encouraging the child to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Regular exercise or outdoor play should be a part of a weekly schedule. Brisk walking, swimming or running is advisable.
  3. Healthy food intake should be part of the weight management or weight loss plan. Meal schedules should also be taken into consideration. Remember that weight management is not about eating small amounts of food but rather eating the right food in the right amount.
  4. Proper guidance and professional help. As parents, it is advisable that you support the child as he pursues a healthy lifestyle. It is also recommended to seek help from doctors or nutritionist to better plan the child’s weight management.

Image by: stop-childhood-obesity.com

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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