Obesity in Children a National Crises

Obesity is a condition of being excessively overweight. There are two types of obesity, exogenous (outside the body) and endogenous (inside the body). Exogenous obesity is defined by the state of obesity caused by taking in more calories than used (burned) because of over eating.  Endogenous obesity is defined by the state of obesity caused by burning less calories than taken in because of an abnormal condition effecting metabolism. Both types of obesity have the same end result, both effect the metabolism of fat to the degree that excessive weight gain occurs. The extra calories are stored as adipose tissue (fat). When a person’s weight far exceeds the normal range by greater than 2 standard (std) deviations above the mean (average) they meet the criteria for obesity. In an effort to identify who is obese, scientific guidelines needed to be used. 

The body mass index (BMI) is a standard unit of measurement used to determine the ratio of weight to height. The BMI is used to define normal weight, overweight, underweight and obese weight.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html

There is an inherent flaw in this standard of measurement in that individual body type or frame is not considered. A person may have a small or large skeletal frame or may be athletic and have a muscular frame, and since bone and muscle weighs more than fat the BMI may be falsely elevated. Therefore all of these compounding variables need to be taken into consideration.

The cause of obesity is multifactorial. Contributing factors to obesity include learned behavior, through bad eating habits passed down from obese parents; genetic predisposition, affecting metabolism and body type or build; socioeconomic status, through lack of access to healthy food options and education about good nutrition; processed fast foods, which are convenient in a society desiring immediate gratification; and living in a high tech society, with social media and video games that encourage inactivity. 

Historically Adults were more likely to become obese because of inactivity due to sedentary lifestyles acquired while working in offices pushing pencils, watching TV and laying around when off work to relax then becoming out of shape. Once inactive one is easily fatigued, once fatigued one becomes inactive and the downward cycle continues to spiral, affecting health and longevity due to excessive weight gain which is then compounded by over eating. As adults acquire debt, responsibility of family and other relationships, they resort to over eating due to high stress lifestyles for comfort. 

Obesity in children has become a nationwide epidemic. Children are obese because of lack of exercise and overeating. A lot of the problem is due to over indulgence by well intending parents trying to provide their children with more than what they had growing up. Instead we as adults are creating a generation of obese children who might not live as long as their parents because of the increased risk for chronic diseases. Obesity in children increases the risk for health conditions that historically were seen primarily in adults. We are now seeing these conditions in children. Listed below are some of the conditions caused or complicated by obesity:

Metabolic syndrome

Insulin resistance

Type II diabetes (adult onset historically)

Hypertension (HTN), high blood pressure

Precocious puberty

Poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Sleep apnea

Fatty liver

Depression

I will define each of the conditions listed above on the next discussion.

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