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Childhood Obesity

  • Childhood Obesity

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): Obesity is defined as abnormal or excess fat accumulation in body which can cause risk to health. Childhood obesity has been a serious health concern for the past 2-3 years. Due to the rising prevalence of childhood obesity and the negative effects it has on children, it has been recognized as a serious health issue which is not to be ignored.[1]

The harmful effects of obesity can be anything, right from psychological to physical effects. It may even have long-term effects in some cases. Psychological effects include emotional effects where children experience bully by their peers or their family.[2] Physical effects include diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and other such disorders.[3] According to an article in The New York Times, all health effects indirectly contribute to a shorter lifespan of about 5 years for obese children.[4]

Studies have also shown that it is the first time in America where the current generation of children has a shorter lifespan as compared to their parents.[4] In the meta-analysis of nine studies which were carried out in India, 92,862 subjects were analyzed and identified, which showed an estimation of 12.64% increased rate in case of overweight and 3.39% in case of obesity. A study done in 2008 showed that children who were obese had carotid arteries which were prematurely aged by as much as the age of 30 years and had abnormal levels of cholesterol.[5]


  • A review of 2010 states that childhood obesity is the result of excess energy consumption by those who require less energy for daily activities.[6]
  • Some of the reasons behind this is increased consumption of unhealthy snacks, huge decrease in the physical activity of children and increase in the use of technology.
  • A study of Cespedes in the year 2011 stated that kids who use electronic devices for more than 3 hours a day had an approximate 17-44% increased the risk of being overweight and around 60% increased the risk of obesity.

Family Practices:

Change in the family practices greatly contribute to the cause of obesity.[7] Some of these are as follows:

  • Fewer students go outside and engage in physical activities and rather prefer watching television or playing video games.
  • Rather than walking or cycling to go to schools, children are often accompanied by their parents who drive them to their schools in bikes, reducing physical activity.
  • Improper meals and no fixed timings of meals, especially in huge families.


Schools can play a large role in preventing childhood obesity which can provide a safe and healthy working environment.[8] Parents can also contribute by changing the eating habits of their home and the way they exercise.


Choose whole foods such as:

  • Whole grains (whole wheat, steel-cut oats, brown rice, quinoa).
  • Vegetables (Green and leafy).
  • Whole fruits.
  • Nuts, seeds, beans and other sources high in protein such as eggs.
  • Vegetable oils (Sunflower oil, groundnut oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil, etc.)

Physical activity:

  • At least 1 hour of walk every day.
  • Muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities (thrice a week).


Currently, there are no medications approved for the treatment of obesity. However, a recent study in 2016 (Cochrane review) stated that medications might reduce BMI and body weight up to certain extent, but it was based only on low-quality evidence.[9]


As of 2015, there has not been a good evidence in attempting surgery to change the lifestyle of children who are obese.[10] However several studies are yet going on, regarding this issue.[10]

Researchers proved that obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as they grow. One study showed that children who were overweight at the age of 10-15 years had an increased risk of approximately 80% of being obese at the age of 25 years. Another study stated that if overweight starts at 8 years of age, then it is likely to result in obesity in adulthood too.[11]


  1. Kopelman, Peter G (2005). Clinical obesity in adults and children: In Adults and Children. Blackwell Publishing. p. 493. ISBN 978-1- 4051-1672-5.
  2. Janssen I, Craig WM, Boyce WF, Pickett W (2004). "Associations between overweight and obesity with bullying behaviours in school-aged children". Pediatrics. 113 (5): 1187–94. doi:10.1542/peds.113.5.1187. PMID 15121928.
  3. Childhood obesity - CNN
  4. Belluck, Pam (17 March 2005). "Children's Life Expectancy Being Cut Short by Obesity". The New York Times.
  5. "Obese kids have arteries of 45-year-olds: study". CTV News. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  6. Han JC, Lawlor DA, Kimm SY (2010). "Childhood obesity". Lancet. 375 (9727): 1737–1748. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60171-7. PMC 3073855 . PMID 20451244.
  7. Berger, Kathleen Stassen (2014). Invitation to the Life Span, Second Edition. New York: Worth Publishers. p. 247. ISBN 1464172056.
  8. "Adolescent and School Health"
  9. Mead, E; Atkinson, G; Richter, B; Metzendorf, MI; Baur, L; Finer, N; Corpeleijn, E; O'Malley, C; Ells, LJ (29 November 2016). "Drug interventions for the treatment of obesity in children and adolescents". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 11: CD012436. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012436. PMID 27899001.
  10. Ells, LJ; Mead, E; Atkinson, G; Corpeleijn, E; Roberts, K; Viner, R; Baur, L; Metzendorf, MI; Richter, B (24 June 2015). "Surgery for the treatment of obesity in children and adolescents". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 6 (6): CD011740. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011740. PMID 26104326.
  11. Childhood Overweight and Obesity, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 2011. Retrieved 4/18/2011.

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