Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12.4 million children and teenagers aged 2 to 19 years suffer from obesity during any given year. The CDC data reports that during 2011-14 the prevalence of obesity among children aged 12-19 years was at nearly 20.5 percent, while 17.5 percent kids in the age group 6-11 years are obese.
There are many factors that can be held responsible for some children turning obese to an extent that it makes their lives debilitating. Experts say that genetic conditions, slow metabolism and an unhealthy environment can make a child obese. Below is a list of potential factors that may result in childhood obesity:
- Inactivity for prolonged period
- Lack of adequate sleep
- Insufficient community places to participate in physical activities
- Easy availability of high-calorie foods and sugary beverages
- Inaccessibility to healthy food items
Problems arising out of childhood obesity
Obese children are at greater risk of suffering from critical and serious diseases, including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint difficulties and type 2 diabetes. In addition, obese kids are more vulnerable to heart-related ailments such as increased blood pressure and high cholesterol when compared to their peers with healthy body mass index (BMI).
Children suffering from obesity are more prone to be bullied, abused and discriminated against in contrast with their normal-weight peers in schools. Studies show that childhood obesity if continued until adolescence and then as young adults, may make it tough for affected teenagers to get admission in a university. Besides, obese children have been found to suffer from social isolation, symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. Obesity during childhood can continue into adulthood, resulting in lifelong physiological and psychological disorders.
Children are identified obese when they have an excess of body fat. The need to educate about this serious health condition and spread awareness about the risk factors prompted the federal government to observe September as the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (NCOAM).
Preventing obesity among children
Studies show that boys are more likely to be obese than girls, though there is no marked distinction between the pervasiveness of the disease between the two genders. It is necessary to keep an eye on the calorie intake and the nature of lifestyle of children to prevent obesity and promote the idea of healthy growth in them. Guardians must ensure that their wards:
- Drink lots of water
- Reduce intake of sugary beverages and juice
- Get necessary amount of physical activity every day
- Gorge on healthy meals and fruits as opposed to eating fried and salty snacks
- Maintain a healthy environment around themselves
Seeking treatment for mental problems
Obesity is a problem that can fuel emotional disorders. As obese children are prone to mental health illnesses, it is imperative for parents and guardians to be well-informed about the risks of obesity. If a child suffers from depression or anxiety due to obesity, he/she should be taken to a reputed mental health care facility.
Sovereign Health is a leading provider of mental health treatment services for both children and teenagers with any mental health problem. If you think that your loved one exhibits signs of any kind of psychological disease, seek expert advice at our mental health rehabilitation centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-973-7164 or chat online with a trained specialist to know about our state-of-the-art mental health facilities in California offering holistic recovery programs.