Child and Adolescent Obesity

Having excess body weight is known as obesity. Body mass index or BMI gives an easy way to estimate whether a person is overweight or not. BMI is measured by person’s weight in kilogram divided by the square of a person’s height in meters. Though BMI calculation is the not the accurate way of judging someone is obese or not, still gives a vague idea about a person’s health. In the US, the numbers of obese children have tripled since 1970. Center for Disease Control recommends using BMI percentile instead of normal BMI for measuring bodies of 2-20 years of young people. BMI percentile has its own share of advantage over normal BMI since also takes into account the growth of the children, age and sex. CDC has sent some guidelines over which a person is called overweight when measured in BMI percentile.  BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than 95th percentile is considered as overweight for young people of the same age and sex. If the percentile is more than 95th then they are considered as obese. The main reason for obesity is the energy imbalance among the youth i.e. taking in more energy than what is required by the body for normal function. Many factors contribute to childhood obesity including genetics, metabolism, society in which the child is staying, short sleep duration, eating and physical activity behavior. An obese child is often bullied more than normal weighing child. Also these children also have a high tendency to grow obese. As a result they are more prone to asthma, bone and joint problem, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and risk factors for heart disease. In order to prevent childhood obesity, schools should include more fruits and 60minutes of daily physical activity with few fewer food and beverages that are high in added sugars or solid fats.

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