Childhood Obesity: Definition, Symptoms and Precautions


Obesity and being overweight are conditions that concern human beings of all genders, races and ages worldwide. The scientific study of obesity is relatively new, so that there is not sufficient scientific data to speculate on the various ways being overweight impacts people today, but some generalizations can be drawn statistically.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES has been studying obesity in adults and children for several decades. Their results show that obesity is has been on the rise in all age groups for some time. NHANES studies from 1988-1994 found that 10% of children ages 2 to 19 were obese, and 56 percent of adults over 20 years old were also. NHANES studies from 2007-2008 showed that 17% of children ages 2 to 19 were now estimated to be obese, and 68 percent of adults over 20 years old were as well.

These statistics indicate a dramatic increase in obesity and being overweight, based on their sample data. This data does not reveal many details, but does show that both adults and children have increasing numbers, when it comes to obesity today.

For purposes of this article, we shall focus primarily on childhood obesity, but the data is relevant across the board in any case.

A Definition of Childhood Obesity

Essentially, childhood obesity is defined as the occurrence in children, when a girl or boy is considerably over the normal weight for their individual age, height and physical body type. Childhood obesity is a medical condition that should be taken seriously, as it impacts all ages of children, adolescents and teenagers. It is a condition that has long term impact on physical health, since it creates a starting path towards greater health problems that continue on into adulthood. Children today are showing signs of conditions earlier in life that we once only expected in mature adults, such as higher cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and the onset of diabetes.

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Some Symptoms of Childhood Obesity

There are no single signs that point towards predicting obesity or overweight issues in an individual child. Often children that have larger than average physical body types are prone to obesity, but this doesn’t mean that all children carrying a few extra pounds are guaranteed to become overweight. Some children start to become obese during developmental changes in different stages of childhood, but this may change as they grown and isn’t a clear method of predicting long term weight gain. Physical conditions related to blood pressure often are indicators and should be evaluated. Also children with weight gain issues are prone to lower self-image, negative self-esteem, fatigue and even depression.

Any of these maybe signposts signals weight gain problems, but must be evaluated within context and equally related to other aspects of the individual child. Childhood obesity and being overweight are usually holistic problems, since these are conditions that are related to the mental, physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual aspects of any child’s lifestyle.

Precautions for Obese Children Today

The most important contributing factor to childhood obesity comes down to lifestyle. All obese children have a combination of lifestyle issues, the most common being related to their nutrition, calorie intake and a general lack of physical activity. Some obesity is related to genetic or hormonal disorders that create predispositions to being overweight, but these are not common. Thee best strategy for weight reduction in children always is improvement of the individual diet and nutrition, in combination with a regular regiment of exercise in the daily lifestyle. Watching what calories are being taken into the body and maintaining an activity level that insures a proper amount of calories being burned, this is essential to combat obesity in all children today.

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Additional precautions can be implemented with the advise of a trained physician. Such a professional can help evaluate potential health problems with proper testing, exercise planning, growth charting and other ways to develop or track an individual child, while creating a weight history over time. It is important not to make unfounded observations about a child’s obesity or weight gain, when trying to determine of their weight is in a healthy or unhealthy range. Many factors should be considered, such as growth patterns, developmental stages, genetic height characteristics and where any child lands within all similar data. These factors can best be evaluated by someone trained in the sciences that are used to collect such statistical data.

Many parents presume to understand the intricacies of such information, often having been told inaccurate or unsubstantiated facts. This doesn’t make such parents bad people, only ill informed individuals trying their best to raise a healthy child. This can happen to anyone, so drawing from a pool or resources for childhood obesity information is the best way to go. Many resources are available online or through local agencies in any city, but also within the individual school systems today. Making use of all available tools is a great way to create a preventative health plan for boys and girls of all ages.

Some General Facts About Obesity and Being Overweight

In comparison to people having normal weight ranges, anyone who is overweight or obese is at much higher risk for a variety of health conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to many types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a number of related cardiovascular disorders, plus strokes and heart attacks. These risk factors increase for individuals that are obese or overweight in childhood, then continue to be so into their adulthood. This is the primary reason that understanding childhood obesity is important today.

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To best prevent long term problems associated with childhood obesity, it is necessary to implement changes in lifestyle, diet and also consult with a child specific physician on a regular basis. These combined efforts are the primary way to insure that your child is kept healthy and within a normal weight range. Doing this should help avoid many health complications for them now and in their future adulthood.

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Childhood Obesity: Definition, Symptoms and Precautions
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