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Early Signs of Obesity


Childhood obesity is increasing each year at an alarming rate in the United Arab Emirates. An obese child is more likely to be obese adult. Obesity is a challenging medical problem as it requires more than just a mind shift in parents. A change in food and activity choices as a family can help reinforce healthy habits within children.

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In simple words, obesity is excess fat in body, accurate measurement of fat is complicated but for practical purposes body mass index (BMI), weight for height, skin fold thickness and waist to hip ratio are used to define obesity. BMI is calculated by weight (kg) divided by height (meter square) (kg/m2). BMI more than 95th centile for age and sex (>30) is defined as obese and 85th to 95th percentile as overweight (25-30). There are age specific growth charts for weight for height and age.

Obesity is multi-factorial and one of the major reasons for the increase of obesity over the last decade is the shift to foods with high fat and sugar content in relation to activity and exercise.

Prevalence of obesity is reportedly increased by 2 % for every hour of TV viewing, similar effects with surfing internet and video games. There are also evidences that individuals under-report calorie intake. The other reasons of childhood obesity are endocrine or hormonal abnormalities, for example high cortisol hormone, medications like steroids and some genes are also linked to obesity.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, high cholesterol, psychosocial problems, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, early puberty, polycystic ovarian disease in girls are highly associated with obesity.

Managing obesity is challenging in kids, hence it is important to find out the cause and to promote healthy diet with ample physical activity. It needs the entire family to work together to build a healthy lifestyle in your home. There are many ways of ensuring that your kids stay active like maintaining diet diary, educating about calories, developing daily routine of physical exercise, limiting TV, computer and video game timings.