Obesity is a serious condition in which the body has excess fat than what's considered healthy. The primary cause of obesity is excess consumption of calories. When the calorie intake exceeds the calorie consumption, the body stores them in the form of fat. Factors that can cause obesity are high-calorie intake, genetic makeup, sleep deprivation, stress, medication and a sedentary lifestyle.
Childhood obesity is not uncommon. According to WHO, 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
The causes of childhood obesity are the same as that of adults. In addition, the environment in which children live also affects their food habits. There is a greater chance of an obese kid growing up into an obese adult.
How to prevent Obesity in Kids?
1. Breastfeeding: Research and recent data show a correlation between breastfeeding in infancy and reduction in obesity. Breastfeeding directly from the mother's breast is most beneficial and affects the BMI of an obesity susceptible child later in life. Breast milk helps babies learn to regulate hunger cues and supports the growth of healthy bacteria in their digestive system.
2. Do not force feed or overfeed: Encourage the intake of proper portions according to the child's age, do not force-feed or allow the child to overeat. This practice will ensure that the calorie intake remains in check and the child stays healthy.
3. Reduce sedentary time: In this digital age, fancy gadgets, gizmos and OTT content ensnare kids to sit for hours on end and stare at a screen. Indulge them in fun outdoor activities/games that facilitate mental/physical growth and keep obesity at bay.
4. Ensure adequate sleep: Children need more sleep than adults. Sleep deprivation leads to a lack of energy and hunger, making children eat more and play less. Lack of sleep may also affect the growth hormone. Help children maintain a proper sleep schedule to keep them active and energised during the day.
5. Limit junk food: Easy availability of calorie-rich junk food increases the chances of children getting obese. As mentioned earlier, the environment in which the child lives affects the child's food habits. As an adult, be a role model, adopt healthy food habits and inspire your child to follow the same.
How to prevent Obesity in Adults
1. Eat healthy: Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into the diet will provide you with the required nutrients, keep calories in check and reduce the risk of overeating. Apart from this, including dietary fibre, protein-rich food and healthy dietary fats in the food will keep you fit and lean.
2. Have timely meals: A quality diet will not be beneficial if you don't have your meal on time. Having irregular meals or skipping them altogether will cause the metabolism to slow down, resulting in weight gain.
3. Manage Stress: Stress has become a part of our everyday life. If not managed, it can affect our mood and well-being. People tend to seek more high-calorie food when experiencing stressful situations. This behaviour contributes to obesity. Include meditation, yoga and exercise in your daily routine to keep stress to the minimum.
4. Enough sleep: Sleep deprivation creates an imbalance of food regulating hormones: leptin and ghrelin. This imbalance creates increased feelings of hunger and people tend to crave high-calorie food. Additionally, insufficient sleep impacts your metabolism and elevates cortisol levels.
Obesity leads to potentially serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer. However, the good news is that obesity is preventable. Obese individuals can manage obesity by switching to a healthier lifestyle. However, in cases where lifestyle changes have no effects that are long lasting and permanent, one may look for a solution through bariatric surgery. The Obesity Clinic at AJ Hospital in Mangalore has a team of doctors, surgeons and interconnected health officials to treat obesity. The obesity clinic uses a multi-disciplinary approach through assessment, control and effective management of diet and exercise to reverse unhealthy weight gain.
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