Obesity in Children
Did you know that childhood obesity has become a global health challenge in the 21st century, particularly in developed countries? Obesity is the leading cause of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, as well as their related complications, of which diabetes is one of them.
Studies show that obese children continue to be obese as adults. Approximately 43 percent of obese children grow up to become obese adults, while 29 percent were overweight as adults.
Why should I be worried?
Obese kids are at risk of developing hypertension and increased insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes during their adolescent years. They can also develop obstructive sleep apnoea earlier.
Obese kids are also more likely to become obese or overweight adults and will have a higher risk of developing many health problems during adulthood, especially heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, all of which are associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
Obese adults have more problems with their joints as the excess weight leads to greater wear and tear. They may have difficulty walking and exercising, making it tougher for them to lose weight or stay healthy. In addition, obese children have higher risk of psychological problems such as depression and poor self-esteem. It is also a cause of school bullying.
Obesity can result in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) whereby one’s breathing is affected during sleep leading to periods when the brain receives less oxygen. This affects the quality of sleep and learning on the following day. Children with significant OSA suffer from disrupted sleep and feel tired in the day (day time sleepiness) that can affect their school work.
How can I prevent obesity?
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet.
- Reduce the amount of calorie dense foods like fast food, sweetened beverages etc.
- Increase fibre in their diet, comprising fruits / vegetables.
- Encourage physical activity and exercise.
- Cut down on sedentary activities like watching TV or electronic devices. Screen time should be limited to not more than two hours in a day or 14 hours in a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight range.
- For children not yet in puberty, do not aim to lose weight, but aim for no additional weight gain.
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