Tuesday, 2 November 2010

fat is bad news for baby

Paediatric endocrinologist, Archana Arya, treats obese children at the Centre for Child Health in Gangaram Hospital all the time, but even she was surprised to see a 14-month-old baby weigh 17 kg last week.
The boy's weight should have been between 8 and 11 kg. After ruling out all clinical causes of his obesity — hypothyroidism, pituitary gland disorder or genetic syndromes which may cause weight gain — Arya concluded that the baby was obese because he was being fed every one hour.

The perception that 'puppy or baby fat' in children disappears as they grow older is a myth that puts their future health at risk, reports the British Medical Journal. While earlier studies showed that excess weight during teenage years predisposes adults to continued weight problems, the new study — which tracked 5,863 children as they developed into young adults — found that the problems were established before teen age.
"Most people think that children outgrow fat and need to be fed incessantly to make them grow, but this is not the case. As with adults, it's the quality of nutrition you get that matters more than the quantity," says Arya.

While children of obese parents are at greater risk of becoming overweight adults — 40 per cent risk if one parent is obese and 80 per cent risk in the case of both parents — it's what you eat and how active you are as a child that partly defines your adult weight. "Only 5 per cent obese children are overweight because of clinical reasons, the remaining 95 per cent cases are caused by unhealthy diets and inactivity," says Arya.
Some health problems associated with obesity are heart disease, type-2 diabetes, orthopedic problems such as weight stress in the joints of the lower limbs, tibial torsion and bowed legs, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis (separation of the hip joint from the thigh bone), skin disorders such as heat rash, and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem and depression.
Healthy eating habits can only be inculcated at home. Parents should set an example by making the right nutrition choices such as increasing fiber in the family's food choices by using more whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. "Increasingly, sweetened juices are used to replace fizzy drinks, but parents forget that these are also sweetened and high in calories. The drinks of choice should be water, unsweetened juices and milk," says nutritionist Ishi Khosla.
Experts say eating a healthy breakfast is a habit that will serve you well throughout life. "Children who eat healthy breakfasts tend to do better at school and are thinner than children who skip breakfast because they are less likely to snack on junk food in the school canteen or at home during the day," says Khosla.
Last year, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that children who buy lunch in school are almost 40 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than those who bring lunch from home. The study also found that children who ate dinner with their families were less likely to be overweight, and it strongly recommended giving children packed lunch from home.
Food apart, the importance of physical activity and team sports cannot be overlooked. "Parents need to limit television and computer time because these not only decrease time available for physical activity, but television-viewing has been linked to greater consumption of cold drinks, fried foods, and snacks," says Arya. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends limiting television, films, video games and computer time to no more than two hours a day.

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