Saturday, June 19, 2010
A sufficient energy intake is important for children while they are growing, and a varied and nutritious diet is essential for their development. However,and like adults, if they take in more energy - in the form of food - than they use up, the extra energy is stored in their bodies as fat.
If your child is overweight or obese, it's more likely that he/she will develop some serious health problems more usually seen in adulthood, like hardened and blocked arteries (coronary artery diseases), high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Overweight children are twice as likely to be obese when they grow up than children who aren't overweight. This means that in adulthood, they will be at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and certain cancers. The risk of health problems increases the more overweight you become.
As well as being a risk to the child's health, being overweight as a child may also cause emotional problems. Teasing about his/her appearance can affect a child's confidence and self-esteem, and can lead to isolation and depression.
An unhealthy diet combined with a lack of exercise are the main causes of childhood obesity. High-calorie foods such as chocolates, sweets and fast food are cheap and readily available to children. Alongside this, physical activity and exercise are no longer a part of most children's days - some children never walk or cycle to school or play sport. Instead, many of them spend hours in front of a television or computer.
Presence of a family history of being overweight or obese, your child may be more likely to be obese. Genetic factors may play a role in this, but the most important is shared eating and activity habits, or a combination of both,that are more likely to cause your child to be overweight.
It's unlikely that your child will be overweight because of an underlying medical problem.
What is a healthy weight for a child?
You may find it difficult to tell whether your child has temporary "puppy fat" or is genuinely overweight. Your GP will check height and weight charts (centile charts) when assessing your child to see if he/she is overweight for his/her age.