July 2018

Childhood Obesity Causes, Complications and Prevention

Madhusudan Phadke

Madhusudan PhadkeThe problem of child obesity is getting worse and has increased the risk of developing various health problems, writes Madhusudan Phadke, Founder & Managing Director, Healtho, for Elets News Network (ENN).

Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world and India is one of them as it has more obesity concerns.

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. Children, who are obese, are above the normal weight and it is a condition of excess body fat often associated with a large number of debilitating and life-threatening disorders and diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. It can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

We have high impact of technology in our lives. Children are also spending maximum time of the day on electronic gadgets like video games, mobile games, television that have replaced physical activities. This is one of the significant causes of child obesity.

According to a report from urban South India, 21.4 per cent of the boys and 18.5 per cent of the girls, aged 13-18 years, are overweight or obese. The prence of obesity among school children in India has been reported between 5.74 per cent and 8.82 per cent.

Causes of Obesity:

  • Social and Environmental Factors

It is a main factor to have doubled the childhood obesity in last 30 years. It is encouraged by marketing, based on consumer behaviour and targetted marketing of high calorie food, beverages and fast food.

  • Physical activities

Electronic media, video games, Mobile games, and others have taken the place of physical activities

  • Stressful day

Due to high competition in education, children are busy in school and post-school for their tuitions. Children get very short time for themselves.

  • Psychological factors

Personal, parental and family stress can increase a child’s risk of obesity

  • Family factors 

If yours is a family comprising overweight people, the child is more likely to put on weight


Not all children carrying extra pounds are overweight or obese. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So, just by looking at your child you might not know if weight is a health concern.

The body mass index (BMI), which provides a guideline of weight in relation to height, is the accepted measure of overweight and obesity. Your child’s doctor can help you figure out if your child’s weight could pose health problems by using growth charts, the BMI and, if necessary, other tests.


Childhood obesity can have complications like physical, social and emotional well-being.

  1. Physical complications
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • High cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  1. Social and emotional complications
  • Low self-esteem and being bullied.
  • Behaviour and learning problems.


Whether a child has a healthy weight or is becoming an overweight, to avoid the risk of overweight we need to take measures to keep things on the right track. Following simple preventive suggestions will help:

  • Limit your child’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat meals as a family as often as possible
  • Limit eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants
  • Adjust portion sizes appropriately for age
  • Limit TV and Other screen time
  • Visit child specialist at least once in a year to check BMI and other checkups.

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