Treatment Of Obesity For Youngsters (Adolescents)
The problem of childhood obesity in India has increased significantly in recent years. Around 12.7 million or 17 per cent of children and adolescents are overweight. Obesity is one of the easiest to recognize but most difficult to treat. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise are the cause of more than 300,000 deaths per year. Obese children are far more likely to become obese adults if they do not adopt and maintain a healthier diet and exercise.
Adolescence is a critical phase in the management of obesity because of the dynamic physiological and psychological changes associated with this phase of growth and development.
The increasing prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents can be an emerging public health problem. Obesity is a multi-layered chronic disease that needs to be addressed from various angles to get optimal care. The first important step is understanding how to optimize adherence to lifestyle changes.
Adolescent obesity is not only a cosmetic problem. A significant increase in cardiovascular risk has been observed, possibly due to metabolic disorders related to obesity. This article is to give information about the general treatment of obesity for youngsters.
What is obesity?
A few extra pounds do not indicate obesity. In general, a child is not considered obese as long as they weigh at least 10 per cent higher than recommended for his size and body type. Obesity usually starts between the ages of 5 and 6 years or in adolescence. Studies show that children who are obese between the ages of 10 and 13 years have an 80 per cent chance of growing up as an obese adult.
What Causes Obesity?
The causes of obesity are very complex, and they include genetic, biological, behavioural and cultural factors. A person turns obese when they eat more calories than the body is burning. If both parents are obese, their children have 80 per cent of obesity. Although certain medical disorders lead to obesity, the chances of this happening are 1 in 100 of obesity cases. The things that can put your child at risk of obesity are:
- Genes: Obesity can be transmitted through family. Obese parents can increase a child’s risk of becoming obese.
- Metabolism: Everyone’s body uses energy differently. Metabolism and hormones do not affect everyone equally. They can play a role in gaining weight in children and adolescents.
- Socio-economic factors: There is a close relationship between economic status and obesity. Obesity is more common in low-income people. In some countries, people may have limited access to affordable healthy food. Or they might not have a safe place to exercise.
- Lifestyle choices: Overeating and an inactive lifestyle contribute to obesity. A diet full of sweet, high-fat, and processed foods can increase body weight. So maybe there is less regular exercise. For children, watching TV and sitting in front of a computer can play a role.
What are the risks and complications of obesity?
There are many risks and complications associated with obesity. The physical consequences are:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Joint pain
- Hormonal changes
Child and adolescent obesity is also associated with an increased risk of emotional problems. Teenagers with weight problems tend to have much lower self-esteem and are less popular with their peers. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can also occur.
How are adolescents diagnosed with obesity?
BMI is often used to determine obesity in adolescents. There are two categories:
- BMI at 95th percentile or higher or BMI greater than 30, whichever is lower. BMI results in this category mean that the child must undergo a comprehensive health examination.
- The BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles or the BMI is 30, whichever is lower. This result means that the child must undergo an analysis that examines five areas of risk:
- Familial history of heart diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity
- High blood pressure
- Total cholesterol
- Significant gains in BMI from year to year
- Weight problems, including children’s concerns about being overweight
How can obesity be treated?
Obese adolescents need a thorough medical examination by a doctor to check for a possible cause. If there are no physical abnormalities, the only way to lose weight is to reduce the number of calories consumed and increase physical activity. Prolonged weight loss can only occur with self-motivation. Since obesity often affects more than one family member, eating healthy and regular exercise is suitable for the whole family.
Ways to manage obesity in adolescents
Treatment depends on the symptoms, age, and health of your teenager. It also depends on the severity of the condition. Young people are often overweight or obese because they have poor eating habits and are not active enough. Genes also play a role.
- Run a weight management program
- Change eating habits (eat slowly, wake up early and routine)
- Plan meals and make better food choices (eat less fatty foods, avoid junk and fast food) know what your child eats at school
- Food portion control and consumption of fewer calories
- Increase physical activity, especially brisk walking, and live a more active lifestyle. Eat with family instead of watching TV or sitting at a computer
- Limit snack intake
- Attending a support group
- Diet counselling
- Behaviour changes
- Individual or group therapy that focuses on behavioural change and feeling correction related to weight and typical developmental problems
- Support and promote change and follow recommended treatments
Treatment is often carried out with the help of bariatric surgeons who can suggest nutritionists, psychologists and sports specialists. The goal of caring for your teenager must be realistic. You need to focus a little on reducing calories, changing eating habits, and adding more physical activity.
Tips to keep your child healthy:
Here are some tips to help your child stay healthy:
- Concentrate on the whole family: Work slowly to change your family’s eating habits and activities. Don’t focus on the child’s weight.
- Be a role model: Parents who eat healthily and are physically active set an example to their child. Your child is more likely to do the same thing.
- Encourage physical activity: Children must be physically active for at least 60 minutes Limit screen time: Reduce your teen’s screen time to less than 2 hours a day in front of the TV and computer every day.
- Prepare a healthy snack: Store the refrigerator with non-alcoholic or low-fat milk, not soft drinks. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables instead of high-sugar and high-fat snacks.
- Aim for five or more: Serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Drink more water: Encourage teens to drink water, not sugary drinks. Limit your child’s intake of soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juice drinks with preservatives.
- Sleep a little: Encourage teens to sleep more every night. It has been previously found that staying early reduces the level of obesity.
Medications that help you lose weight are usually not used during adolescence for safety reasons. An exception is obese adolescents with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes who are at risk of developing diabetes. The drug metformin, which is used to treat diabetes, can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of diabetes. Surgery is also not suggested as the body gets changed.
The reason why most overweight teens regain weight is that they tend to go back to old dietary habits and stop exercising. Therefore, overweight adolescents must learn to eat and enjoy healthy food in moderation and exercise regularly to maintain the desired weight. Parents of overweight children can increase their child’s self-esteem by emphasizing their strengths and positive nature, rather than just focusing on their weight problems.
If an obese child or teenager also has emotional problems, a child psychiatrist can work with a bariatric surgeon to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Such a plan would include reasonable targets for weight loss, diet and exercise management, behaviour change, and family involvement. For more information, contact Dr Venugopal Pareek, a bariatric surgeon at 091777 77715.