Childhood Obesity: A threat to the health of future generations
Our present generation is blessed with all comfortable means of living. Automation has enabled us to find alternatives to manual tasks, and most of the daily routines and affairs are possible at the comfort of a click of a button. Voice-enabled solutions are helping people around the world to complete tasks swiftly. Compared to their parents, the younger generation is already proving to be naturally better at using and mastering the latest digital tools and inventions.
It all looks good until we realise this comfortable, technology-centered life comes at a price: more and more people—a significant percentage of them children are finding it increasingly difficult to avoid spending too much time in front of their screens. Moreover, replacing healthy home-cooked meals with instant food solutions and fast food culture has hooked the younger generation on unhealthy eating habits. There is growing evidence pointing toward a close link between modern lifestyle and many of today’s physical and mental health issues faced by children.
“Obesity epidemic” is a global health crisis; the rapid rise in obesity and lifestyle-related disorders is one of the most major public health issues facing the world today. In the future, when this current young generation enters adulthood, chronic illnesses related to obesity will be an area of huge concern.
What causes Obesity?
Obesity is not a permanent condition. It can be prevented and controlled by making positive changes in our lifestyle and eating habits. The reasons for obesity include a family history of the disease, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, and unnatural sleep patterns. With the right support and motivation, it is not impossible to overcome the challenge of childhood obesity and positively impact a child’s physical and mental well-being.
The major risk factors of obesity are:
- Consuming high-calorie foods and beverages
- Lack of physical activity
- Long working hours without ample movement in the body
- Side effects of certain medications used for long periods
- Lack of proper sleep
- Genetic and hormonal factors
- Stress and psychological reasons
What the future holds
Even with the advancements in health care and improvised treatment solutions, childhood obesity remains a major global health concern as it can contribute to numerous and varied health complications down the road. Overweight children are more likely to develop body image issues. They might find it hard to participate in physical activities with their peers, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor academic performance. Timely management or treatment of the condition and lifestyle changes can help prevent these complications and provide the foundation for better health through the next stages of life.
Some of the health risks associated with obesity are:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Gastrointestinal illnesses
- Breathing and asthma-related complications
- Pain and discomfort in joints and bones
- Anxiety and depression
What the future holds
Coping with obesity starts at home. Family is the biggest source of support, encouragement, and motivation in a child’s journey in overcoming obesity. Planting healthy habits early on in childhood is the foremost step towards preventing it. Parents are role models for their kids. They can encourage lifelong health in their children by providing a variety of healthy and nutritious foods in the home, limiting the intake of fast food and sugar-sweetened drinks, allowing fewer hours of daily screen time, and giving their children lots of time to indulge in physical activities. The key to success is quite simple: healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle can help prevent obesity.
- Eat healthy at home. Insist on a good nutrient-rich diet at home.
- Reduce the quantity of fast food, packaged foods and sugary drinks at home.
- Encourage walks, exercise and physical activity.
- Replace junk food with healthy snacks like nuts, cereals and salads.
- Prepare healthy food at home more often.
- Reduce tensions and reasons for stress at home.
- Ensure the child gets enough sleep.
- Keep manageable and achievable weight goals for yourself and your children.
- Involve more group and family outdoor physical activities on weekends and holidays.
- Give support to your child in managing and fighting obesity. Care and consideration can have positive effects in reducing anxiety.
Obesity is a chronic disease, but most children can overcome the condition with enough effort, the right motivation, and good care and support. A healthy body is a home to a healthy mind. For a healthy future, we can start today. Self-discipline and support for our children can improve their quality of life and help them achieve more success. Let’s help the future generation; let’s start from our home.
Learn more on how to help keep your children’s health in top shape; book an appointment with Dr. Abdulla Aljneibi, American Board Certified Pediatric Endocrinologist.