Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity will result in obese adults later in life, according to researchers in UPM in 2004.  Childhood obesity is a major issue in the world today. It is a leading indicator of early onset non-communicable diseases and mortality in adults.  Teenage obesity in Malaysia today is at 38%. And the problem has alarmed the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

Childhood obesity and overweight issues in children will age the child’s body.  Research has shown that obese children have hardening of heart vessels similar to that of a 30 or 40 year old overweight adult.  Needless to say, this is leads to an early onset of heart disease.  Other health issues include high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, breathing problems and an increased risk to infections.

Obese children get teased and taunted by their peers in school and at home.    This has shown to lead to mental health problems such as depression, low self esteem and eating disorders.

Obese children would usually have one parent who has overweight issues.  Or they have been fed with high caloric and energy dense food such as roti canai, sugary water and fries from fast food joints and lots of sweets and snacks.  Plus obese and overweight children are largely inactive, spending too much time watching television or playing computer games.

Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority.  The fastest path to recovery is through weight loss programs that address the lifestyle, fitness as well as the body fat% in terms of visceral fat.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) at the global level and the Malaysian Ministry of Health locally, recognise that childhood obesity is a serious medical condition.  WHO has in 2004, rolled out the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.  This plan aims to reduce these NCD by targeting and improving lifestyles that have unhealthy diets and minimal physical activity.

Researchers at UPM in 2004, in a study on childhood obesity in Malaysia, concluded that the family has to be engaged as a whole to remedy childhood obesity and overweight issues.  Lifestyles have to be changed to include weight loss management plans to a  better approach to eating and to factor in more time for physical activity.