Overweight and obesity are defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can be detrimental to health. Childhood obesity is one of the most serious global public health problems of the 21st century, increasingly affecting low- and middle-income countries. When people suffer from this health problem at such a young age, they tend to continue to suffer from it in adulthood and increase the likelihood of suffering from diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Digestive diseases
- Respiratory diseases
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sleep apnea
Facts to understand the problem of obesity
The WHO publishes some data on obesity that help to understand the problems involved:
- Overweight and obesity are defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can be detrimental to health.
- Since 1975, obesity has almost tripled worldwide.
- In 2016, over 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years (and older) were overweight. Of these, more than 650 million were obese.
- In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 years (and older) were overweight, and 13% were obese.
- The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity claim more lives than underweight.
- In 2016, 41 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese.
- In 2016, there were more than 340 million children and adolescents (aged 5-19 years) who were overweight or obese.
- Obesity can be prevented.
The two most common causes of obesity
Children of obese fathers and/or mothers will be more likely to be obese themselves but, unlike what many people believe, it is not only a matter of genetics, it is a matter of habits. Children who grow up in a family with bad habits will learn to carry them out in the same way their parents do. And, if the parents are sedentary, their children will probably follow in the same footsteps.
1. Poor nutrition
According to the WHO, most children who suffer from obesity are obese because their diet is hypercaloric and their food is based on foods rich in saturated fats, sugars, sweets, pastries, and pre-cooked foods, among others. They do not include fresh vegetables, fruit, and quality proteins on their plates. A nutritional plan deficient in nourishing foods and loaded with empty calories is the origin that triggers, in many cases, obesity.
2. Sedentary lifestyle
As we explained in previous lines, children who grow up in a sedentary family or who do not take into account that mobility is vital for good health and development of the child, are those who live closely with obesity. Sitting all day at school and then at home, whether watching TV, doing homework, or on the computer, together with uncontrolled mealtimes, are very negative habits for children.
What to do against childhood obesity?
Providing children with a balanced diet from an early age is one of the most powerful actions against childhood obesity. In addition, you will be educating your child’s palate and teaching him/her to eat healthily. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy carbohydrates, and quality proteins such as legumes or fish, as well as fiber, vitamins C, D, and B, along with the necessary minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Exercise is, together with nutrition, the other ally against childhood obesity. It also works on self-esteem, self-care, and respect for the child’s body. One hour of activity per day is recommended, which, today, can take many forms. There are many after-school activities, but there are also alternatives for families who choose not to enroll their children in after-school sports.
It is usually difficult for children to drink water, but it is necessary to drink as much as possible and constantly for the balance of the organism and the elimination of fats. It should include 5 to 8 glasses of water a day outside the main meals.