As the child’s BMI varies with age, different age-specific cutoffs have been used to define overweight and obesity.
Children are thus defined as being overweight or obese if they have a BMI above the cutoff for the given age and sex.
First, overweight and obese children and teens are much more likely to become obese as adults compared to normal BMI children, and second, it is more challenging for these adults to lose the excess weight once they become obese.
Newer drugs and bariatric procedures for treating obesity-related health problems have emerged but these procedures are costly and have their own complications.
Furthermore, obese children today are getting affected by diseases and health problems previously observed only in adults; many obese children today are developing health problems that once afflicted only adults.
Chronic illnesses like diabetes mellitus and heart disease have an earlier onset and a prolonged course in these obese children, and even though the disease might remain undiagnosed until adulthood, the resulting complications are more severe leading to a shorter life.
Behavioral changes and lifestyle modifications are the primary tools for reducing obesity.
However, if the environment contributes to the unhealthy eating practices and sedentary lifestyle, strategies and interventions relying solely on individual “self-control” will not be very effective.
Furthermore, treatment is still in preliminary stage, so early prevention holds better than treatment at later stages.
This article is an attempt to lay emphasis on childhood obesity as a problem that needs to be recognized early and measures for its prevention.