DESCRIPTIONObesity exists when your child's weight is 20% or more above that considered normal for height. It may affect children of all ages and both sexes. Obese children are usually large at birth and gain weight rapidly. The tendency to be overweight is probably inherited. Most obese children are born with an excess of fat cells and an increased ability to store fats. Appropriate health care includes ruling out certain endocrine problems (hypopituitarism, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism), treating any underlying health problems, and establishing life-long good eating habits. Patience, determination, high motivation,
and a good sense of humor are constant requirements for successful treatment.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Weight 20% or more than normal for your child's height. Most obese children have no symptoms except associated emotional problems and poor exercise tolerance.
CAUSESInherited excess of body fat cells and eating more food than your child's body can use. The body cannot store carbohydrates or proteins, so excess calories are converted to fat and stored. One pound of fat represents about 3,500 excess calories, depending on individual metabolism.
Copying poor eating patterns of parents.
Decreased physical activity.
Psychological factors, including stress, nervous tension, boredom, frustration, absence of friendships, depression, and poor self-esteem.
Fat parents and siblings.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEEncourage your child to have an active lifestyle. Teach good physical conditioning.
Serve your child foods low in fat, low in refined sugar, and low in salt.
MEDICAL TESTSObservation of your child's symptoms; medical history and physical exam by a doctor; blood tests and X-rays to rule out endocrine problems.
Your child's obesity can be controlled if basic causes are treated and motivation stays high for an entire lifetime.
HOME CAREInvolve your child in outside social activities. Spare time fosters nibbling in everyone. Most snacking occurs between 3 and 6 p.m. Help your child find a part-time job when old enough, or occupy your child with music, drama, sports, Scouts, or other clubs.
None offer any permanent help.
Daily exercise to the point of breathing hard can increase your child's rate of weight loss and sense of physical well-being. your child should participate in a gym program in school, or spend 10 minutes per day exercising at home. If possible, walk places instead of riding in a car. Use the stairs instead of elevators. Limit TV time to 2 hours or less per day. As your child loses weight, exercise will be less tiring. Encourage learning new sports that especially appeal to your child. Swimming, bicycling, skiing, and jogging are sports that burn the most calories.
DIET & FLUIDS
See Appendix 31, Obesity: Guidelines for Losing Weight.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes. Encourage full participation in any possible area of interest, particularly those requiring physical effort.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Obesity increases, despite self-help.