Obesity in childhood
By Apoorva Joshi
We hear about the obesity epidemic hitting kids all over the world these days. But what does it really mean?
What is Obesity?
Can we look at someone who looks fatter than the rest of us and say that he or she is an obese? The answer is no. Obesity has got nothing to do with how one looks. Looking fat does not make you obese, nor does it increase the chances of any health issues. What actually qualifies a person as obese is a marker called body mass index (BMI). It is a ratio of your weight to your height. It is calculated as follows:
e.g. For a girl who is 155cm tall and weighs 50 kg,
The classification based on BMI is as follows
Why does one become obese?
The body needs calories as fuel to keep the internal systems running and to accomplish tasks like walking, climbing, picking things up etc. If the body is supplied with more calories than what it needs, it stores the extra calories as fat. Excess of such accumulated fat eventually makes a person obese. There may be multiple reasons for this.
When you do not perform too much physical activity like playing, dancing, running etc, the body spends fewer calories. It may then accumulate extra fat.
Access to more packaged foods
Most of the packaged foods have excess sugar or fat in disguise. They are designed to make you crave for more. So, you end up eating more of such foods which do not have enough nourishment for your body but do contribute to the excess calories.
Stress adversely affects the body in more ways than one can imagine. Periods of stress during exams may lead to binge eating, not moving and make you more prone to obesity.
If you have a family history of obesity, it may make you more prone to getting obese. However, managing your food habits and lifestyle will help you remain healthy.
Health problems associated with Obesity
Obesity means carrying extra weight on your body which may lead you to other health issues. It increases your risk of getting asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, PCOS and a range of other issues. So it is never too late to start making changes in your life to not only avoid obesity but also the problems that it causes.
What can you do to remain healthy?
You may not have to bring about any drastic changes in life to stay healthy. Changing a few habits can go a long way:
Happiness is homemade
Food that is cooked at home by our family is more nourishing, hygienic and wholesome than the snacks we buy outside. So try to eat and carry more homemade meals.
Eat a rainbow
Each different vegetable, fruit, and grain provides a different balance of nutrients. So to make your food well rounded in terms of nutrition, it is important to keep trying different things rather than sticking to a chosen few.
Play outdoors for as many hours as you spend in front of a screen
For every hour spent in front of a phone/tablet/computer/TV, spend an equivalent amount of time outdoors. This will make sure that your body gets enough exercise.
Join a sports team
Playing a sport of your choice is the easiest way to be more active, have fun and develop your hobby. So, it’s never too late to learn/practice a sport.
Avoid eating packaged snacks
If you love eating biscuits, cookies, chips, chocolates or any other packaged products, read their labels for the ingredients. If it has too much sugar or fat, and/or contains some ingredients that you cannot pronounce, most likely it is not good for you.
Drink enough water
Soda, aerated beverages, sugary milkshakes and coffees may contribute to your liquid intake, but in fact dehydrate your body. So make sure you drink enough water and avoid packaged beverages.
(Computer engineer-turned-nutrition coach, Apoorva Joshi guides patients with lifestyle management for diseases and weight loss. She is currently working with the renowned endocrinologist Dr Nadeem Rais in Mumbai.)