Doctor's blog: Obesity in children

7.5.2022 0

Childhood obesity is the most common eating disorder among children and adolescents.
"Childhood obesity causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, liver and kidney disease, as well as reproductive dysfunction. This condition also increases the risk of obesity in adulthood and cardiovascular diseases" - says pediatrician of the highest category Dmytrush Maria Romanivna.
Obesity in children is a complex disease. In recent years, its prevalence has increased so much that many consider it a serious health problem in the developed world. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that the prevalence of obesity is increasing in all age groups of children, both sexes, and across ethnic and racial groups. Many factors including genetics, environment, metabolism, lifestyle and eating habits are thought to play a role in the development of obesity. However, more than 90% cases are idiopathic; less than 10% are attributed to hormonal or genetic causes.
"Some researchers have used the terms overweight, obese, and morbidly obese to refer to children and adolescents whose weight is 20%, 50%, and 80-100% above the expected weight for height, respectively. Body mass index (BMI) has not been consistently used or validated in children younger than 2 years of age. Because weight changes continuously rather than in steps, the use of these arbitrary criteria is problematic and can be misleading. Nevertheless, children and adolescents who are defined as overweight or obese according to the published criteria are likely to retain this severe status into adulthood," says Maria Romanivna.
Factors of weight gain
Despite observations on the etiological role of genetic and hormonal disorders, these factors alone do not explain the increase in overweight observed in most obese patients referred to doctors for examination and treatment. Although most overweight children have a familial form of obesity, with 1 or 2 obese parents, excessive weight gain in obese children clearly depends on both genetic and environmental factors. Correlations between parental and child habits are likely to reflect, at least in part, family patterns of food intake, exercise, and leisure choices (including the amount of television watching), as well as family and cultural patterns of food choice. However, evidence from twin, adoption and family studies suggests that genetic factors also play a significant role in the development of childhood obesity.
International statistics
International reporting of childhood obesity varies and accuracy may be less than optimal; in 77% of the countries analysed, the prevalence of overweight children was at least 10%. Notably, the highest rates of children at risk of obesity were found in Malta (25.4%) and the United States (25.1%). The lowest rates are in Lithuania (5.1%) and Latvia (5.9%). A recent European Youth Heart Study shows that Swedish children have a lower risk of being overweight or obese in adolescence compared to Estonian children.

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