There has been much discussion and considerable public interest in the health complications attributed to adult obesity in recent years. However, equal attention should also be given to issues regarding obesity in children and adolescents. There is a common perception that obesity in children is merely a cosmetic problem, with very little or no medical effects. This is a huge misconception largely based on a lack of information and guidelines on childhood obesity.
Early assessment and diagnosis of childhood obesity are critically important in order to introduce some preventive measures. The medical approach for obesity in children and in adults is treated differently. This is mainly because children and adolescents are still in the growing stage and a lot of factors should be considered. Aggressive weight management programs are simply not advisable since it is important not to compromise the child’s normal development and growth. Intensive dieting may very well prove to be quite disastrous.
Clinical nutrition assessment and diagnosis of childhood obesity generally revolve around the energy balance minus energy intake minus energy output. Unlike adults where energy balance is zero, children require a continuing positive supply and balance of energy to sustain normal growth. Subjective assessment and diagnosis of childhood obesity have proven to be inadequate. This would only result in the possibility of mislabelling non-obese children as obese and vice versa.
It is also highly critical to perform an accurate assessment and diagnosis of childhood obesity to decrease the cardiovascular risks in their early stage. Other health complications such as hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, hyperinsulinemia, and prevalence of Type II Diabetes can prove to be deadly when left untreated. There is also a higher probability that childhood obesity can persist into adulthood that can also affect the child emotionally and socially. Obese children will predictably have very low self-esteem and have the tendency to isolate themselves from other people. Aside from that, obese people are often subjected to discrimination in our society. This is the harsh reality that obese people have to live with every single day. This could trigger a person to undergo a deep depression and result in ill-health both physically and emotionally.
The growing number of obese people has made this a societal issue, and not merely the burden of the afflicted individual. We are all expected to contribute to hopefully minimizing the incidents of obesity both among children and adults. Early assessment and diagnosis of childhood obesity is still the major key in trimming down the figures. Employing some preventive measures is undoubtedly a more effective treatment.