Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.
One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect the health of your child now and in the future.
Although there are some genetic and hormonal causes of childhood obesity, most of the time it's caused by kids eating too much and exercising too little.
Far less common than lifestyle issues are genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can make a child more likely to be obese
Treatment for childhood obesity is based on your child's age and if he or she has other medical conditions. Treatment usually includes changes in your child's diet and level of physical activity. In certain circumstances, treatment may include medications or weight-loss surgery.
Treatment for children under age 7
For children under age 7 who have no other health concerns, the goal of treatment may be weight maintenance rather than weight loss. This strategy allows the child to add inches in height but not pounds, causing BMI-for-age to drop over time into a healthier range. However, for an obese child, maintaining weight while waiting to grow taller may be as difficult as losing weight is for older people.
Treatment for children 7 years of age and older
Weight loss is typically recommended for children older than age 7 or for younger children who have related health concerns. Weight loss should be slow and steady — anywhere from 1 pound (about 0.5 kilograms) a week to 1 pound a month, depending on your child's condition.
The methods for maintaining your child's current weight or losing weight are the same: Your child needs to eat a healthy diet and increase his or her physical activity. Success depends largely on your commitment to helping your child make these changes. Think of eating habits and exercise habits as two sides of the same coin: When you consider one, you also need to consider the other