Are You Pregnant?…Childhood Obesity Facts

pregnant couple with doctor( — Infant or childhood obesity is a growing problem across the world today. The prevalence, causes, risks, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and psychology of childhood obesity are hot topics in research. The factors that influence the risk of overweight in childhood include maternal lifestyle, infant feeding transitions, and environmental factors. Further, birth weight and parental obesity also play a role in childhood obesity. Thus, childhood obesity seems to be influenced by intrauterine life, postnatal life, feeding, childhood and genetic factors.

Obese children are at risk of being overweight throughout their adulthood. They are more prone to health problems like sleep apnea, asthma, fatty liver disease, type II diabetes, cardiovascular complications, early and delayed puberty. Obese children have been found to have a lower self-esteem and academic achievement. Low protein intake during pregnancy often results in low birth weight and subsequently leads to various metabolic disturbances.

Studies in developed countries suggest that breastfeeding has a protective effect against childhood obesity. Children seem to have a functional preference to sweet intake because breast milk is predominantly sweet in taste. Thus, natal feeding has a strong influence on the feeding preferences of the child. But, unfortunately highly sweetened foods and beverages available today have a higher Dietary Energy Density (DED). Thus, infant feeding practices, the transition between breastfeeding and formula feeding are important factors that influence childhood obesity.

The modern day weight trends in children of course, show that energy intake and expenditure are often out of balance. It has been reported that an excess 65 KJ per day can result in 8 lb weight gain in 8 years. Excessive watching of television greatly reduces physical activity in children causing an energy imbalance leading to wait gain. Computer games have substituted other outdoor games resulting in reduced physical activity. Further use of strollers by parents has greatly reduced the child’s walking activity. Studies have reported higher rates of overweight and obesity in children with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH.). Current data suggest that 20% of US children are overweight and show a clear upward trend in body weight in children of 0.2 kg/year since 1973. Maternal education on life style, feeding, diet transition, activity and various other preventive measures will contribute towards reduction in child obesity.


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