Childhood Obesity: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Specialist: Caroline Seguin, Behavioral Nutritionist and Adaptive Psychotherapy Specialist in Eating Disorders.

What is an obese child? Definition of WHO

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are defined in children, as adults, by abnormal or excessive accumulation. Body fat Which can harm health.

Some statistics from around the world and France …

Overweight and obesity are recognized by the WHO as the fifth leading cause of death. Obesity is a chronic disease that, according to INSERM, affects 17% of adults in France and 4% children (2015 statistics). Other Statistics: Childhood Obesity Concerns 16% boys and 18% girls. The result of this disease “An imbalance between energy intake and expenditure” And can cause many complications.

In the case of children, it is important to diagnose early, and especially to take care of it at the first signs. Obesity is a disease that can have consequences IrrevocableAnd above all, an obese child is more likely to be an obese adult: “Parents should not ignore her. She has not had a baby yet pubescentSometimes there are some parents who neglect a little extra weight. It gives a slightly “childish” direction. However, we should not be underestimated Caution Caroline Seguin.

Symptoms of childhood obesity: Beware of BMI

The clinical signs of childhood obesity or overweight are sometimes difficult for children to observe with the naked eye. The most reliable indicator to diagnose this is the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is easily calculated with the baby’s height and weight: “Parents must be asked to keep track BMI curveEspecially through health records “, Caroline Seguin confirms. BMI is the only indicator approved by the World Health Organization. The role of the attending physician or pediatrician at this age is essential. He will be the one to monitor BMI regularly and be able to detect it precociously Children who are at risk of being overweight or obese.

According to, all children and adolescents are advised to follow BMI at least two to three times a year.

The formula allows that To count BMI is as follows: Weight in kg divided by height square. The child becomes obese if his BMI is higher than the 97th corpulus curve.

To find out your child’s BMI, type the required data directly into the boxes below:

What are the symptoms parents and doctors should be aware of? When can we say that a child is obese?

BMI is the most reliable indicator for detecting overweight or obesity warning signs using curves. If, however, it counts and transfers it to your child’s health record, you mark one “Lane change”It is important to consult because the risk of being overweight is real, although of course, the ideal weight does not exist at this age: “If we see that a child is changing lanes, which gives us the tendency that there is something wrong with the child’s diet, Sedentary lifestyle, His lifestyle or family pattern. And it has to be done before the baby becomes obese. “, Caroline Seguin insisted. It is therefore essential to observe the carpulance curve throughout childhood.

How much weight at 6 years old?

Continuous growth in the curve since birth is a warning sign of childhood obesity. Children’s BMI increases First yearDecreases by 6 years of age, and increases again by the time growth stops.

Finally, Adiposity rebound Also a signal to be careful. This adiposity bounce is the lowest point of the BMI curve, just before the curve rises. It is usually six years old. If this adiposity rebound occurs early and therefore occurs before the age of six, the child is at higher risk of obesity. Greater adiposity rebound Hurry upThe higher the risk of becoming an obese child.

What causes childhood obesity?

Excess weight and many other factors are involved Development. It is undeniable that a diet that is not adapted to energy expenditure plays an undeniable role in the development of childhood obesity. Increased portion size, high-calorie meals, a sedentary lifestyle with everything or just hobbies (video games, etc.) in front of the television necessarily reduce the child’s energy expenditure.

There is also a tendency for genetic, or at least familial, obesity in children, in particular MomWhich plays an essential role. “Female obesity is a development Big kids ACaroline Seguin explains. More generally, having obese parents “Ask questions about their eating habits and lifestyle, and there’s a good chance they’ll pass them on to their children.”

Lack of sleep, because Emotional (School bullying, depression, etc.), taking certain medications, hormonal abnormalities or eating disorders are also factors that may be associated with a child’s obesity. The physician must take care of the overall picture of the child’s condition before proposing a course of treatment.

What are the consequences of childhood obesity?

The consequences of obesity are innumerable, and affect all aspects of an obese child’s life. And first and foremost the physical and medical consequences: the risk of diabetes, High blood pressureSleep disturbances, for overload In the jointsMuscular dysfunction, poor endurance, shortness of breath … Consequences that carry over into adolescence, then into adulthood, and can affect a person for the rest of their lives.

In adulthood, cardiovascular complications occur more frequently, as is the risk of developing certain cancers.

Finally, the psychological aspect is also important. Obese children are often worse off than others Self-esteemRelationship difficulties, and school bullying are more likely: “There are major environmental problems. Children do not give gifts to each other. We’re going to make fun of him, call him fat, especially time Physical activity… ”, Details Caroline Seguin. Harassment that can cause eating disorders, which in itself will fuel this obesity.

Should your overweight baby be on a diet? Especially not! “We never go on a diet. A food is a Eviction. On the contrary, the family must re-educate the child, showing him how to eat well. ‘Diet’ is a word of deportation, and it is a word that lasts a lifetime and gives the child the feeling that he has to limit himself. The baby should not Not limited, He must learn to eat normally in the long run. This is an apprentice. We are talking more about food balance “, Caroline Seguin insisted. You should not help your baby to lose weight, but rather reduce his weight gain, because the older he gets, the more refined the baby will be.

Increasing regular physical activity is another way to lose excess weight. “Minimum 150 minutes of physical activity Achieving goals is moderate activity (or 75 minutes of intense activity) each week.Inserm advice.

There are very few medications to treat obesity. The only drug approved in France Orlistat®, Which works on fat digestion. Surgery may be an option but it is reserved for the most severe forms of obesity. Gastric band, sleeve, or BypassSurgery is offered, but they must be considered as a last resort, and not earlier than 15 years.

For Caroline Seguin, overweight management by the attending physician is sufficient, “If the doctor takes the time to talk to the child”. The family plays an important role and the overweight child must be accompanied in its goal Food balance. If the attending physician is insufficient, the child may be cared for at one of the twelve RePPOP Centers (Network for Pediatric Obesity Prevention and Management). Kindness and support goes from key words!

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