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Obesity in children

Obesity in children


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Obesity is an important health problem in childhood. Regulation of body fat begins in the womb, after half of the time in the womb, fat tissue increases. At birth, 16% of body weight is fat tissue. While adipose tissue increases during infancy, it becomes 12-15% in 5-6 years. While it decreases to 11% in males at the age of 10-15, it rises to 23% in girls. Nowadays, the frequency of obesity increases in every age group. the nutritional habits brought by modern life and the decrease in the physical activity of children (tv, computer). One-third of obese children are obese in obese adolescents (children after puberty), 80% are obese at adulthood, and 30% of obese adolescents are obese as children.


The cause of obesity is mostly due to excessive eating and this type of obesity “Simple obesity” or “Exogenous obesity” It called. Children with exogenous obesity are also taller than their peers. In some cases, a medical problem can be identified as a cause of obesity. Obesity occurs due to a disease, which “Pathological obesity” is often accompanied by short stature.


Causes of obesity:

1 - Family reasons: If both parents are obese, the chance of obesity in children is 80%.

2- Environmental Factors: Restriction of physical activity is a general problem in children living in urban areas. Watching television and using a computer can be counted. These two procedures restrict the child's activity and reduce energy consumption.

3- Nutrition: The obese child is not always a child who consumes more than his / her peers, but a child who consumes less energy. Decreasing the frequency of nutrition, eating one or two meals and high calorie foods, rich in carbohydrates and fat increases the risk of gaining weight.

4- Hormonal factors: Some hormonal causes such as diabetes, thyroid gland diseases, adrenal gland diseases can also cause obesity. For this reason, every child who is obese must be evaluated by a pediatric hormone specialist.

Conditions seen in obese children:
- Obesity affects various organs and systems in children and adolescents. Studies have shown that 10-30% of obese children have hypertension. Obese children have an increase in bad cholesterol (LDL-Cholesterol) and a decrease in good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol). Depending on the increase of oils; Cardiovascular diseases may increase the incidence of liver disease, gall bladder diseases.
- Obese girls may develop early menstruation due to early bone development. In addition, menstruation and various menstrual disorders are among the most common complaints.
- Obese children and adolescents due to weight gain; various orthopedic disorders may also occur due to overloading of the joints.
- Excess weight decreases the ability of movement in children by disrupting respiratory function and increasing the burden on the heart. The inactivity associated with this reduction further reduces energy consumption to form a vicious circle.
- Fast weight gain is an important risk factor for the development of frequent respiratory diseases. Patients with severe obesity may experience respiratory arrest during sleep and may cause serious problems.
- Obesity also causes the emergence of some psychological disorders. These children may become more introverted by avoiding social relations, and the approach to the opposite sex may be disrupted.

Obesity treatment should be performed in cooperation of dietitian, physician and patient. The most important goal of the treatment is to achieve lifelong weight control and to make proper nutrition and sport a lifestyle. For this, it is necessary to make enough energy constraints to ensure normal growth. Establishing a diet and changing lifestyle should involve the whole family. Since weight loss is inconvenient, you should be prepared for a continuous and slow weight loss program.

The two most important points in the treatment of obesity: The energy received should be reduced and the energy consumed should be increased.

The child's diet should be tailored to each child in accordance with the eating pattern of the child and the family. When preparing the diet, taking into consideration the growth and daily activity of the child, care should be taken to include the necessary nutrients. Obesity treatment is long lasting and requires patience. The support of the family is very important. The diet should consist of main and intermediate meals. Never skip meals. A large meal should be preferred, rather than frequent, small meals. When determining the child's energy needs, growth is also taken into consideration. It should be ensured that iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins are not deficient in diet.


Physical activity for energy consumption is extremely important in the treatment of obesity. Therefore, diet therapy must be done with exercise. The exercise program should also be individually tailored. Initially, mild exercise programs are given, and then the frequency and intensity of the exercise is increased. Daily exercise time should be at least 30 minutes. Walking, light jogging, cycling, aerobics at home, dancing are simple types of exercise (using stairs instead of lifts is an exercise). In order for the child to be successful in the treatment of obesity, both eating and physical activities should be transformed into a behavior and lifestyle. Physical activity does not only increase energy consumption. It also prevents the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by increasing insulin sensitivity and increasing good cholesterol (HDL).

Dr. More professionals named Bülent Öztürk
Acıbadem Bursa Hospital
Child Health and Diseases Specialist


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