Obesity in Children

The incidence of obesity, which is due to the increase in the amount of fat in the body, is increasing both in the world and in our country. studies in Turkey, children and young people are overweight or obese shows that 10-25 percent. Liv Hospital Child Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Specialist Prof.Dr. Cengiz Kara explained the causes and treatment of obesity.


What causes obesity?

Basically, there are two types of obesity. These; obesity due to lifestyle and obesity caused by endocrine and genetic disorders. Obesity is a rare condition because of an endocrine or genetic disease in the body. In 95 percent of children, obesity is caused by the energy imbalance between calories and calories consumed. Our bodies spend energy to do daily activities such as walking, running, talking, digesting food, breathing and maintaining body temperature. In addition, children need energy to grow. This energy is used for daily activities and is used to grow. If the energy (calories) taken with the nutrients is much, but the energy spent by the body to do the daily work is less, then the increased energy is stored in the body as the mass of fat. Thus, depending on the increased fat mass, weight increases and obesity occurs. Each extra 7 thousand calories taken into the body are stored as approximately 1 kilo of fat. Calorie is easy to take, it is difficult to burn. Unfortunately, in addition to faulty parental attitudes and improper eating habits, today's living conditions are also suitable for children.

What are the health problems caused by obesity?

  • Obesity causes various health problems and diseases starting from childhood. Obesity shortens the estimated life expectancy in non-smoking adults at around 40 years of age by 7-8 years and by 13-14 years in smokers. Obesity, starting from childhood, is estimated to shorten life expectancy by 15-20 years. Health problems caused by obesity can be listed as follows:
  • Insulin resistance syndrome (metabolic syndrome)
  • Type 2 diabetes (diabetes)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (elevation in blood fats)
  • Atherosclerosis and coronary heart diseases
  • Renal diseases
  • Early puberty
  • The irregularities in girls and hair problems
  • Gallbladder stones and inflammation
  • Liver fatty tissue and hepatitis
  • Respiratory disorder in sleep, short breathing stops, snoring
  • Respiratory infections and asthma
  • Skeletal problems, hip joint gliding, limbs spun
  • Skin problems, inflammation, darkening of skin
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Mental problems, depression

How to treat obesity in children?

If there is an underlying disease, it should be investigated: firstly, a child should be evaluated by a specialist physician to see if there is a disease causing obesity and the health problems caused by obesity. If the child is diagnosed with a hormonal - metabolic problem, its treatment is a priority. In children with simple obesity, nutrition and lifestyle rearranging (balanced diet, regular exercise and increased mobility in daily life) are required.

The diet plan should be revised: Adult diet patterns and excessive restriction of caloric intake are not appropriate in childhood as children continue to grow. Limiting the calorie intake disturbs the child's growth. It is important that the nutrition plan is in accordance with the age and gender of the child under the supervision of a specialist physician and that the growth and development of the child is regularly monitored.

Activity should be increased: In addition to the usual daily activity in obese children, it is recommended to have at least half an hour of moderate activity (in a musical or playing style), regular sports activities on weekends and walking.

A lifelong behavior change should be provided: The child should be provided with psychological support to adapt to the nutrition plan and to maintain a more active lifestyle, to abandon the view of food as a reward and target.

Families must cooperate and support the child: the cooperation of the whole family is very important. The aim of the treatment of obesity in children is not to provide weight reduction only in a certain period of time; Stopping the weight gain is sufficient in many children with mild to moderate weight. The main objective is to prevent the formation of adult obesity by providing healthy lifelong and lifestyle changes.

Nutrition Advice to Prevent Unnecessary Calorie Intake in Children

  • Avoid foods with high calories in childhood; give fruit instead of ready fruit juices in cardboard boxes.
  • Instead of sugar and carbonated drinks, prefer water, buttermilk and milk.
  • Gain the habit of a balanced diet (vegetable dishes, legumes and salads prepared from fresh vegetables) instead of foods without fat or high fat.
  • In foods such as pasta-rice-potatoes consume foods with high sugar load rather than fruits-vegetables-pulses instead of high-load foods.
  • Gain the habit of eating in regular meals (3 main 2 snacks)
  • After dinner and especially before going to bed to ensure that the food.
  • Make sure breakfast is never missed.
  • Avoid eating snacks and snacks, and avoid snacks such as chocolates and chips.
  • Reduce fast food consumption in hamburgers, pizza type.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Limit high-calorie food intake.
  • Remove the service container from the table after service.

All of these recommendations are aimed at preventing unnecessary calorie intake in children. However, in order to prevent obesity, it is necessary to increase the daily energy consumption with the limitation of excess calorie intake. For this, regular exercise and daily activities should be increased. We must be aware that the more we move, the more energy (calories) we can spend. Below are recommendations for this:
  • Suggestions for Spending Extra Calories:
  • Stairs should be used instead of lift
  • Close walking distances should be walked
  • Television watching should be limited to 30 minutes a day, 2 hours on weekends
  • Computer should not be used for more than 30-60 minutes per day
  • Sports (walking, basketball, volleyball, running) at every opportunity and weekends
  • Physical education courses should be increased and encouraged if possible
  • Sports teams should be formed in schools and regular work
  • Swimming and team sports should be encouraged. The aim is not to race, but rather to ensure the participation of the child.

Recommendations for Postpartum Prevention for Obesity in Children

Studies show that feeding with prepared foods is a special risk factor. Breast milk is the ideal food source for infants and is protective against obesity. Obesity develops less in children fed with breast milk for longer periods of time. Therefore, breastfeeding should be given with additional nutrients for the first 4-6 months alone and up to 1-2 years of age. Additional nutrients should not be exceeded early and unnecessary and excessive nutrition should not be made with prepared foods.

On the other hand, some babies are fed with breastmilk in the first 6 months of life is observed to gain weight fast. In these babies, two characteristics are remarkable: mothers are overweight and breastfeed their babies numerous times and for long periods of time or every time they cry. The growth of babies of obese mothers should be closely monitored. If there is fast weight gain, breastfeeding should be controlled. Foods with low energy density should be selected during the transition to the supplementary food. Babies who cannot take breast milk should be preferred with low protein formulas. Recommendations for prevention of obesity in infancy are as follows:
  • Babies should be fed with breast milk for 4-6 months
  • Solid foods and sugary drinks should be delayed
  • Solid foods should not be started early, especially in those fed with formula
  • After feeding the baby should not be forced to finish the meal.

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