BENGALURU: Obesity has been shown to have a substantial negative effect on longevity, reducing life expectancy by up to 20 years. So serious are the potential repercussions for children that a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 determined that this generation of children may be the first that do not outlive their parents.
Aetiology (The Cause)
■ High energy food intake and lack of physical activity
■ Dysbiosis in infanthood (may be a result of diet or antibiotic use)
■ Chronic otitis media (may increase preferences for sweeter and saltier ‘junk’ foods)
■ Childhood stress
■ Parental BMI: Overweight parents doubles the risk for overweight children (genes and obesegenic environment)
■ Maternal smoking during pregnancy
■ Gestational Diabetes
■ Nutritional deficiency in pregnancy, especially methylating factors, folic acid and vitamin B12
■ Low birth weight
■ Not being breast fed. Various theories suggest that bottle feeding tends to introduce solids.
■ Higher BMI trend at 10 years of age if solids introduced before 6 months, and higher still at 7 years of age, if introduced before 15 weeks.
■ Pre - and post-natal toxin exposure, such as BPA, organoclorides, dioxins and heavy metals
■ Poor sleep
■ High TV and technology use
Thorough research exists to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of moderate protein, high fat and low carbohydrate diets for overweight and obese children. Such dietary changes produce no adverse outcomes in long term growth or health, which is further highlighted when considering the increasing health risks of being overweight. Furthermore, these dietary modifications have been shown to be the best in regards to both weight management and long term compliance.
How to motivate and inspire an obese child
Identify feelings associated with being overweight or obese, and meaningful factors to help to commit to making the dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve weight loss goals. To help identify their inspiration, practitioners might ask, what would you do if you were healthier and fitter? If you had better weight, what new activities would you like to do?
Some suggestions to support motivation and inspiration
■ Plan specific exercise times during the week
■ Ensure they include incidental activity as a part of their daily routine
■ Add variety to their exercise to avoid boredom
■ Ensure they exercise in a group or with friends
■ Find non-structured exercise activities they enjoy, such as dance classes, team sports, playing with other children.
■ Set realistic goals and record progress together. Regular consultations are vital for this.
Being distracted while eating a meal impacts satiety and post-meal snacking behaviour.
An experiment showed that children who ate lunch while playing a video game felt immediately less satiated and ate significantly more snacks 30 minutes after eating compared to non-distracted participants.
Authors hypothesise that memory plays a role in food intake and suggests that screen time may play a role in the development of obesity.
Children who consumed higher amounts of fruit, vegetables and food prepared at home during infancy showed higher full-scale IQ at four years of age.
This association remained significant after adjusting for a wide range of factors, including socioeconomic status, maternal education and home environment.
Physical fitness in children leads to better overall grades according to a recent study. Cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability were associated with better academic performance in children, independent of confounders such as excess body fat. Researchers suggest this may be due to improved brain vascularisation, increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and modulation of processes that control cognitive flexibility and working memory.
This author is an expert in anti-aging and functional medicine. She runs her
clinic- Aura Anti Aging at HSR Layout, Bengaluru.