Myth: A Fat child is not a Healthy Child
In India, from the day a child is born, health parameters are set by the family. A heavy and chubby child is considered to be healthy disowning the fact that overweight infants can turn into obese adults.
This is a result of global realisation that the war against leading killer diseases such as cardiac problems and atherosclerosis can be won only if remedial measures are initiated from the childhood. Obesity occurs as a result of high energy intake exceeding energy expenditure, leading to excessive fat deposition in the body. This excessive fat and cholesterol usually get deposited inside the arteries resulting in hardening of the arterial vessel wall, which is called atherosclerosis. With time progression, this might lead to blockage of the blood flow and when this blockage becomes significant, it results in cardiac arrest.
As mentioned earlier, 70 percent of obese adolescents grow up to obese adults and once obesity is established in adulthood, it becomes extremely difficult to reverse it. Therefore, strict measures are being taken to control obesity in children and inculcate lifestyle modifications. This practice can help in producing a generation of adults that are free from early onset of cardiovascular disease, while leading to a healthy nation.
Factors leading to childhood obesity
There are multiple factors associated to obesity among kids. The predominant cause is unhealthy dietary habit compounded with sedentary lifestyle.
Other causes include, intake of medications such as steroids, medical condition such as hypothyroidism and genetic factors. Various studies show that if one of the parent is obese, the chances of obesity in child is 50 per cent. However, if both parents are obese, chances of obesity in their child rises to 80 per cent.
In fact, children whose family members are obese or overweight and have a history of cardiovascular disease under 55 are considered high risk for the early onset of coronary artery disease and should be screened periodically beyond two years of age with a fasting lipid profile.
Results of Lipid Profile
Total Cholesterol >170mg/dl (Borderline), >200mg/dl (Elevated)
LDL >110 mg/dl (Borderline), >130 mg/dl (Elevated)
HDL <35 mg/d TGL >150 mg/dl (Elevated)
If the average result of three lipid profile results exceeds the cut-off values, then intervention will be required in the form of dietary and lifestyle modifications. Medications to reduce cholesterol are suggested when LDL exceeds 160mg/dl with associated high risks or when it is > 190mg/dl
In the absence of medical cause, childhood obesity can be managed with strict diet and exercise regimen. This includes avoiding fatty food, binge eating and watching television while eating. On the other hand, eating slowly and increasing outdoor physical activities can help in childhood weight management.