Obesity has become a global epidemic in the 21st century. In children, this health condition may have lasting implications because one may suffer from different diseases later in life. According to the available research, diabetes type II and coronary heart disease start in childhood, especially in overweight children (Sahoo et al., 2015). However, this problem can be prevented and managed through healthy living and leading active lifestyles. This paper defines obesity and highlights its epidemiology, clinical presentation, complications, and diagnosis
The basic definition of childhood obesity is having excess body fat (BF) that presents health risks to the involved individuals. However, different definitions have emerged based on disparate contexts. Body mass index (BMI) is one of the parameters used to define this condition. According to Sahoo et al. (2015), when a child or a teenager has a BMI equal or greater than the 95th percentile, he or she is termed obese.
The prevalence of childhood obesity has been increasing consistently over the years. Agha and Agha (2017) note that from the 1980s to 2015, the number of children with obesity increased by approximately 50 percent. Currently, more than 45 million children around the world are overweight (Agha and Agha, 2017). In the United States, 12 to 19-year olds have a prevalence rate of 20.5 percent, while that of 6 to 11-year olds is at 17.5 percent. In children between 2 and 5 years, the rate stands at 8.9 percent (Agha and Agha, 2017).
Overweight children have a different clinical presentation of the condition. However, the common ones include stretchmark on the abdomen and hips, deposition of fatty tissue in different body areas, and thick and velvety skin in disparate parts, especially around the neck (Sahoo et al., 2015). Others include sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux, shortness of breath when active, delayed puberty in boys, early puberty in girls, and eating disorders.
Childhood obesity may have physical and socio-emotional complications. Physical complications include type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, hypertension, asthma, sleep disorders, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (Sahoo et al., 2015). In adulthood, obese children are highly likely to suffer from different health complications. Socio-emotionally, the complications of this condition include low self-esteem, depression, and behavior and learning problems (Sahoo et al., 2015). Additionally, such children are likely to be bullied.
Obesity in childhood is diagnosed by the BMI index to determine the percentile ranking. BMI is determined by measuring one’s weight about height. The score obtained is an indication of the amount of body fat that a child or a teenager has at a given time (Agha & Agha, 2017). As mentioned earlier, if the BMI index is equal to or greater than the 95 percentile, a child is considered obese. In this case, one may undergo screening to test for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, fatty liver, and menstruation in girls.
The prevalence of childhood obesity has been rising in different countries around the world. In the United States, this condition is an epidemic, and the most affected age group is between 6 and 11 years where 20.5 percent of them are obese. However, this health problem can be addressed through leading healthy and active lifestyles. The PICOT question – In school-age children (P), does 30 minutes of school-based physical activity (I), compared with no physical activity (C), decrease BMI and childhood obesity risks (O), within one year (T).
Agha, M., & Agha, R. (2017). The rising prevalence of obesity: part A: impact on public health. International Journal of Surgery, 2(7), 1-6. Web.
Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A. K., Sofi, N. Y., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. S. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), 187–192. Web.