About 25% of children in US are over weight and 11% are obese (unhealthily overweight). Childhood obesity is on increase since 1971. About 50% of adults are overweight and obese in many countries.
Important features causing obesity:
Obesity occurs when expenditure of energy is less than energy intake of the body. Lifestyle preferences, Environmental factors and cultural environment play important roles in obesity. Genetic factors can also contribute to obesity. Normally, caloric and fat intake are responsible for obesity.
On the other hand, excessive sugar intake by soft drink, steady decline in physical activity and increased portion size are also important factors of obesity. Decreased physical activity is in most cases attributed to playing computer games and watching television for longer times and this in most cases is attributed to the parents, who want to have an eye on their children rather than play outside unattended.
On the other hand, many children especially adolescent girls do not take part in physical education and sports in shools and this also contributes to overweight and obesity.
Overweight and obese children have more chances of psychological disorders such as depression, cardiovascular and digestive diseases in adulthood.
Prevention is better than cure. Preventing oneself from the known causes of obesity is thought to be the best option in obesity control and treatment and the best time to prevent overweight and obesity is childhood.
Prevention can be of two types:
1. Primary prevention i.e. prevention before weight gain
2. Secondary prevention i.e. prevention after unhealthy weight gain and avoidance from more weight gain
Until now diet control and proper exercise is thought to be an important approach for prevention. But this shows little effect on weight control. According to a research, increasing dairy intake by about two servings per day could reduce the risk of overweight by about 70%.
Calcium intake is found to reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight younger adults.
Physical activity can be achieved by going to public open networks, walking and cycling networks or centers.
References and Further Reading:
Dehghan, M. et al. (2005). Childhood obesity, prevalence and prevention. Nutrition Journal, 4(24).