Write a letter to the editor of a public health journal in Australia to inform the readership about a topic of current public health interest?…………..
Time to weigh up the problem
January 9, 2012
An article on child obesity in Australian kids.
Available at http://www.essentialkids.com.au
There is increasing trend in overweight and obesity in Australian school going children which calls for new measures that could assist in detecting the problem early enough for management and treatment. According to Dr. McCoy, Australian kids should be put on health check, because the use eyesight can no longer be used to detect weight and obesity problem in children.
Australian Bureau of statistics indicates that 60% of adults and 23% of total children in Australia are overweight. Public perception of weight has also in the country, further complicating the matter and has made body shape a norm, making it even more harder to identify weight problems in children. Obesity was very rare in kids and adolescents in the previous years; however the current increase is attributed to the changing lifestyles. Children obesity is caused by years of poor nutrition and lack of physical exercise.
A joint study by Olstad and McCargar in 2009 attributes increasing weight and obesity to various factors. They identified critical period of child development such a as infancy, intrauterine and preschool periods to be the most crucial moment in life of many kids. Daniel and Small confirmed in their respective studies that during these periods, many factors are likely to induce permanent changes in the structure and function of organs and tissues. Agras study of 2004 showed that Kids’ experiences during this critical moments increases the risk of obesity, therefore insufficient physical exercise, excessive intake of calories or any metabolic changes which changes energy balance may lead to weight and obese problems.
Many parents continue to live in denial about obese problems and body mass index of their kids. It is therefore necessary to make GPS and other methods of health checks a routine as a measure to detect the problem. Dr. McCoy suggested for continued and regular use of GPS into childhood, and this should also be supported by other lifestyle management strategies. In 2007, Baker and others scholars found a correlation between childhood and adult BMI, which they say increases with age during childhood growth.
A child with obesity will suffer from overweight related diseases just like adults; these diseases include cardiovascular complications, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, gall bladder among other diseases as stated by Katzmarzyk and Janssen in their study of 2004. Surprisingly, disease symptoms and clinical evidence of obesity are usually absent in children, which makes it even more hard to detect the problem in early childhood. However, research findings have strongly connected overweight to obesity; examples include the study of Morrison and others in 1999, Friedman and others in 1999, Chu and others in 1998 and studies conducted by Csabi and others in the year 2000, they all found a positive relationship between overweight and obesity.
Prediction of obesity in children is linked to genetics, behavioral and environmental factors. Prenatal insults like smocking, malnutrition and diabetes were identified to be important determinants of future obesity risks among children, as per the research conducted by Huang in 2007. Over nourished or undernourished mothers during pregnancy are likely to bear obese children. The same applies to maternal smocking and gestational diabetes which elevates the risks of obesity in children.
Smoking induced obesity which, according to Power and Jefferis 2002, persists until adulthood and is preventable. Extreme birth weight is directly related to higher obesity risks and rapid growth in children indicates future occurrences of obesity. Breastfeeding is known to protect infants against obesity in their later life hence the longer the period of breastfeeding the lower the risks of obesity. Early feeding experiences are very crucial and impacts on the future health of children. Modern mothers are too busy to cook health diets for their kids and prefer takeaways.
Prevention of obesity should therefore begin with encouraging women to maintain health dietary intakes, and participate in physical activities especially during their pregnancy. Women should be discouraged from smoking, especially during pregnancy and when lactating. Feeding habits must improve, should be healthy and balanced to reduce cases of future obesity in children. We often see parents feeding kids with takeaways claiming to be too busy to cook, without realizing how they impact on their health. Children should be encouraged to participate in physical activities since they are still young, energetic and growing.
Increasing cases of overweight and obesity in school going children in Australia can be reduced. Taking appropriate diet in terms of type and amount should be encouraged as away of managing weight and obesity in children. Children should not be fed on high calorie foods which causes energy imbalance leading to overweight and obesity. A walk to school have significantly reduced cases of obesity in developing nations hence encouraging physical exercise will help to reverse the current trend. Referring overweight kids to a dietician may help reduce these cases and treatment of obesity should be done with qualified medical specialists.
- Agras, W.S., Kramer, H.C., Berkowitz, R.I., and Hammer, L.D.
1990. Influence of early feeding style on adiposity at 6 years of
Age. J. Pediatr. 116(5): 805–809.
- Baker, J.L., Olsen, L.W., and Sorensen, T.I.Z. 2007. Childhood
Body-mass index and the risk of coronary heart disease in adulthood.
N. Engl. J. Med. 357: 2329–2337. doi:10.1056/ NEJMoa072515. PMID: 18057335.
- Chu, N.F., Rimm, E.B., Wang, D.J., Liou, H.S., and Shieh, S.M.
1998. Clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors among
obese schoolchildren: the Taipei Children Heart Study. Am. J.
Clin. Nutr. 67(6): 1141–1146. PMID: 9625086.
- Csabi, G., Torok, K., Jeges, S., and Molnar, D. 2000. Presence of
metabolic cardiovascular syndrome in obese children. Eur. J. Pediatr.
159: 91–94. doi:10.1007/PL00013812. PMID: 10653338.
- Daniels, S.R., Arnett, D.K., Eckel, R.H., Gidding, S.S., Hayman,
L.L., Kumanyika, S., et al. 2005. Overweight in children and
adolescents. Pathophysiology, consequences, prevention, and
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- Huang, J.S., Lee, T.A., and Lu, M.C. 2007. Prenatal programming
of childhood overweight and obesity. Matern. Child Health J.
11: 461–473. doi:10.1007/s10995-006-0141-8. PMID:17006
- Katzmarzyk, P.T., and Janssen, I. 2004. The economic costs associated
with physical inactivity and obesity in Canada: an update.
Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 29(1): 90–115. PMID:15001807.
- Morrison, J.A., Barton, B.A., Biro, F.M., Daniels, S.R., and
Sprecher, D.L. 1999a. Overweight, fat patterning, and cardiovascular
disease risk factors in black and white boys. J. Pediatr.
135(4): 451–457. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(99)70167-8. PMID:
- Olstad, D, & McCargar, L. (2009). Prevention of overweight and obesity in children under the age of 6 years. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 34(4), 551-570.
- Power, C., and Jefferis, B.J. 2002. Fetal environment and subsequent
obesity: a study of maternal smoking. Int. J. Epidemiol. 31: 413–419. doi:10.1093/ije/31.2.413. PMID:11980805.
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