While many parents perceive their child's overweight status as normal, it can lead to a range of health complications, both physical and psychological, such as low self-esteem and depression. Emphasising a healthy diet and active lifestyle is crucial for parents to ensure their child maintains a healthy weight.

Root Causes of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity often originates from an energy imbalance. This can arise from various factors:

  1. Dietary and Lifestyle Habits: Consuming high-calorie foods or beverages, combined with insufficient physical activity.
  2. Genetics: Children with obese family members, like parents or siblings, are at heightened risk. Today, obesity is viewed as a combination of genetic and environmental elements, including diet and lifestyle.
  3. Hormonal Disorders: Conditions such as hormone deficiency, hypothyroidism, and excessive glucocorticoid hormones commonly surface in overweight children.
  4. Medical Conditions and Syndromes: Diseases like Prader Willi syndrome or pseudohypoparathyroidism are prevalent in overweight, short-statured children.

Health Implications of Childhood Obesity

The adverse effects of childhood obesity encompass both physical and mental health domains:

  • Cardiovascular Concerns: Dyslipidemia can elevate the risk of heart-related issues in later life.
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Metabolic Complications: Excessive carbohydrate intake can trigger diabetes or metabolic syndromes.
  • Skeletal Issues: Disorders like scoliosis, bowed legs, and flat feet.
  • Dermatological Concerns: Skin conditions such as fungal infections or increased vulnerability to skin problems.
  • Sleep Disorders: Manifestations like snoring and sleep apnea.
  • Reproductive Concerns: Irregular menstruation cycles in females can lead to infertility in adulthood.
  • Liver Disorders: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a prevalent liver disease among children.
  • Psychological Strains: Issues like depression and low self-esteem.

How to Diagnose Childhood Obesity?

To identify if a child is at risk of obesity, healthcare professionals might:

  • Evaluate Body Mass Index (BMI): This is the ratio of weight (kg) to height (m^2). Children's BMI results are juxtaposed with age-specific BMI charts. A result exceeding the 95th percentile denotes obesity.
  • Conduct Blood Tests: To examine cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and abnormal hormone levels, such as thyroid and insulin.

Remember, certain blood tests might necessitate fasting, so the child should avoid food or drink beforehand.