One of the most alarming current trends in population health is undoubtedly the skyrocketing rate of obesity among children and adolescents. It is absolutely necessary to pay greater attention to this problem, because overweight children are at high risk of suffering from morbid obesity in adulthood and thus of being affected by the numerous diseases associated with this excess weight.
One need only take a look at the playgrounds in neighborhood schools to see how much bigger today’s children are than before. In fact, in barely 25 years, our children’s overweight rate has more than doubled, while the obesity rate has tripled. One can only be concerned about this meteoric increase, as multiple studies show that many of these overweight children are already affected by various diseases that usually do not develop until much later in life, including hypertension, l hypercholesterolemia or type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a serious medical condition, regardless of the age of the overweight person.
Overweight in children: heart disease, diabetes and cancers in adulthood
The presence of excess weight in children and adolescents is often not taken very seriously, as if it were a “temporary” surplus that will magically disappear on its own. ‘adulthood. An important study shows that, on the contrary, obese adolescents are not only much more at risk of remaining obese in adulthood, but that this obesity can also worsen considerably. In fact, by studying a group of 8,834 young people aged 12 to 21 for several years, the researchers found that obese adolescents had up to 20 times more risk of becoming, in adulthood, what is called “morbidly obese”, a very advanced degree of obesity, characterized by a body mass index greater than 40 (a person 1.75 m tall weighing 124 kg for example). This stage of obesity represents a medical problem of great importance, because it is closely associated with several serious illnesses, in particular heart pathologies, diabetes as well as several types of cancer. As a result, an obese teenager is very likely to have a shorter life expectancy than his parents, not to mention the enormous burden that will be imposed on the public health system.
Junk food and a sedentary lifestyle: the two disasters that harm young people
It is extremely difficult to treat morbid obesity in adulthood and prevention remains the main weapon at our disposal to counter this scourge. Several factors are responsible for the appearance of obesity in young people, but none plays a role as important as junk food. These products contain extraordinary amounts of sugars and fats which provide far too many calories, especially at a time
where children spend much less energy than before with the presence of television, computers, telephones, video games. Unfortunately, too many children adopt these products very early in life and develop an unhealthy relationship with food, which is considered a consumer good like any other, “products” whose function is essentially to quickly satisfy the hunger, regardless of its impact on the body.
Parents: take time at the table, awaken tastes
However, such a relationship is far from inevitable, as parents can play a major role in the eating habits of their children. Several studies show that the simple fact of preparing meals as a family and taking advantage of the time spent at the table to enjoy the food considerably reduces overweight in young people. Not to mention that these family meals very often make it possible to create a friendly atmosphere, conducive to dialogue and discussion of subjects that interest young people.
Taking care of your children does not only mean ensuring that they lack nothing. It is equally important to ensure that they do not eat anything and accumulate the extra pounds. The quality of their future depends on it.
The et al. Association Of Adolescent Obesity With Risk Of Severe Obesity In Adulthood. JAMA 304: 2042-2047.