Childhood obesity is a very sensitive topic to bring up with parents, especially in Africa. Obesity in Africa is increasing, especially in urban areas.It’s very difficult to openly discuss with parents the fact that their child is obese. If anything they take offence, and can call your children thin & malnourished!
Obesity is a condition of abnormal or excess fat that is accumulated in the adipose tissue (fat holding tissue), to the extent that a child’s health may be impaired.
Children are not like adults who have full control over what, and how much, they eat. Unlike adults, their consumption fully depends on decisions shared with their parents and caretakers. As parents, we need to take responsibility for our role in our children’s diet.
Overweight and obesity can be calculated by the Body Mass Index (BMI). For adults, BMI is calculated using a person’s weight and height. However, for children and teenagers (5-19 years), the BMI calculation includes age and gender.
This is because the amount of body fat in children changes with age and these changes are different for girls and boys.
You can refer to the WHO classification for children based on height and weight on this link (http://www.who.int/growthref/who2007_bmi_for_age/en/).
Obesity is a result of an imbalance between the energy consumed by the child, as opposed to that which is spent. It means the child is either overfed or has low physical activity.
Obesity could also be as a result of genetic, hormonal imbalance or due to medication. But it’s mostly because the child is overfed or is inactive.
Obesity is 100% curable, however, a parent must change the child’s lifestyle. I have seen perfectly normal kids from obese parents because these parents have taken the extra effort to positively manage the weight of their children.
I always motivate such parents because overweight children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight during their adulthood.
Obesity can also lead to a lot of metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart attack and hypertension