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Thursday June 13, 2024

Childhood obesity: Why prevention is key

Obese children are at a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions

By Web Desk
April 20, 2023
The image shows an infant trying to eat a cake.— Pexels
The image shows an infant trying to eat a cake.— Pexels

Childhood obesity is a growing concern around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of overweight or obese children under the age of five has nearly doubled since 1990. 

Health risks associated with childhood obesity

Childhood obesity can have serious health consequences that extend into adulthood. Obese children are at a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. They are also more likely to experience psychological and social problems such as low self-esteem, depression, and social isolation.

Obese children may also experience physical discomfort such as joint pain, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, they may struggle to participate in physical activities, leading to a sedentary lifestyle and further weight gain.

Causes of childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a complex issue that is influenced by a range of factors. One of the primary causes is a poor diet, which is often high in calories, fat, and sugar. This is compounded by a lack of physical activity, which can lead to excess weight gain.

Other factors that contribute to childhood obesity include genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and socio-economic status. For example, children who live in low-income households may have limited access to healthy foods and safe areas to play and exercise.

Prevention strategies for childhood obesity

Prevention is key when it comes to childhood obesity. By taking steps to promote a healthy lifestyle from an early age, we can reduce the risk of children developing this condition.

One of the most effective prevention strategies is to encourage healthy eating habits. This can be achieved by promoting the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while limiting the intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat snacks. Parents can also model healthy eating behaviours and involve their children in meal planning and preparation.

Physical activity is also essential for preventing childhood obesity. Children should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day. This can include activities such as sports, dance, and active play. Parents can also encourage physical activity by limiting screen time and providing opportunities for outdoor play and exploration.

In addition, schools can play a crucial role in promoting healthy lifestyles. By providing nutritious meals, physical education classes, and opportunities for active play, schools can help children develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.