Childhood Obesity and Exercise
The World Health Organization defines childhood obesity as a global pandemic. Observed in both developed and developing countries, obesity in children and adolescents is the most common nutritional problem observed in the general population and is increasing rapidly.
Body adiposity in children and adolescents varies depending on growth and gender. Therefore, the diagnosis of obesity in childhood and adolescence is made with the help of charts called percentile curve, which take age and gender factors into consideration, unlike for older people. Before making an assessment, it is necessary to measure the height and weight of the individual and to make a calculation called body mass index (BMI) based on this. This calculation is simple and anyone can do it (BMI= WEIGHT (kg) ÷ HEIGHT (cm)2). After the body mass index decreases somewhat in the preschool period, it increases continuously until adulthood. Generally, children over 95 percentile are classified as overweight/obese.
For example, if a child is in 95 percentile, it means that 95 out of 100 children of the same age and gender have a lower BMI than the measured person. Accordingly, children between 85-95 percentile are classified as those who are at risk of being overweight, those between 5-85 percentile are normal and those under 5 percentile are classified as underweight. After calculating your child's BMI, you can easily find out by looking at the percentile curve and follow up on percentile for your child.
Possible Causes of Obesity in Children and The Road to Take
Although being overweight and obese depends on many factors, the most common condition is the imbalance between energy intake and the energy spent. Various genetic and environmental factors that contribute to this have been identified. In addition, although it is rare, some hormonal imbalances, metabolic diseases and musculoskeletal disorders are among the potential causes. While about 10% of obesity is caused by genetic or hormonal disorders, the event is largely associated with an imbalance between calorie intake and the energy spent. Therefore, considering that this problem is increasing very rapidly in the world, the words we often hear such as "my whole family is overweight" or "I have problems with my glands" indicate that the problem of obesity cannot be explained only by genetic or metabolic factors.
After the initial evaluation, it is appropriate to clinically investigate your child with 95 percentile and above by a pediatrician and to review the causes of obesity. In addition, when the BMI value is between 85-94 percentile, it is appropriate to conduct research in terms of family history, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, orthopedic problems, sudden changes in BMI and psychosocial status related to weight. If there is a problem with any of these, it is necessary to consult an expert again. Since the growth in children continues, it is usually not recommended to lose weight usually by entering the negative calorie balance between the ages of 2-7 and in cases where there is no disease. Maintaining the current weight and decreasing BMI over time as the child grows, and healthy eating and exercise habits are the preferred approach. This requires patience and long-term effort, and we can't stress the importance of the family's contribution in this effort. In some cases, nutrition and exercise specialists may also be required to contribute to these efforts. In children aged seven and over, weight loss can be considered under expert supervision when the body mass index is 95 percentile or above.
Possible Consequences of Child Obesity
One of the most common problems that occurs during childhood and adolescence in case of being overweight or obese is impaired psychosocial functions. Many overweight children are subjected to taunts and ridicule for their appearance, are not performing well in situations that require physical activity such as team play, and keep themselves away from such activities. These psychosocial effects often lead to inactivity and inactivity increases obesity.
Scientific studies show that adipose tissue is not only a tissue where the energy not spent is stored, some harmful molecules are released from adipose tissue into the blood, and over time these molecules affect the cardiovascular system, hormonal balance and metabolism, causing various diseases. These unhealthy conditions include impaired glucose tolerance, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, respiratory and digestive system disorders, and heart disease. As you can see, the more the adipose tissue, the greater the risks. Even more remarkable is that some diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) that we are used to seeing in middle age and above are now frequently encountered in childhood. For example, research suggests that 1/4 of overweight children and adolescents develop insulin resistance, and 3% of children in this group may have undiagnosed diabetes (1). Research suggests that these abnormalities increase during adolescence, and that approximately 29% of overweight adolescents develop conditions characterized by metabolic abnormalities called metabolic syndrome. In addition, when public health is considered, approximately 1/3 of the overweight children in preschool and about half of the overweight children in adolescence become overweight adolescents (2).
Treatments and Precautions
Investigation of readiness for changes: Weight tracking programs fail if the child, adult or parents do not feel ready for lifestyle changes. A failed program can result in a decrease in the child's self-confidence and a waste of the energy required for weight control in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the interest of family members in the subject, to question the belief about whether weight loss can be possible, and to investigate what changes are prepared in practical terms.
Explaining healthy and balanced eating strategies, organizing the appropriate physical activity program is absolute for the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Physical activity and eating habits: The first rule for children is that the activity should be fun, enjoyable and rewarding. It's unrealistic to expect children to move to be healthy. Activities closely related to inactivity (computer games, watching television) need to be reduced, and the participation of family members is of particular importance. Especially in children under the age of 10, lifestyle is largely determined by family members, so activities and eating habits that involve the whole family become important. Let's not forget that children in this age group are