Parents often fail to detect obesity in their children

DUBAI — Obese and overweight kids are neither healthy nor accepted well among friends and peer groups, say health experts.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 7 Apr 2007, 8:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:37 AM

At one end where the incidence of obesity is on the rise in metropolitan cities, mothers often fail to recognise obesity as what it is, says Dr Delia Fayyad, renowned paediatrician at Jebel Ali Hospital.

The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has risen dramatically in the past few decades. The phenomenon is more prevalent in developed metropolitan populations, she explains.

“Parents may find it difficult to tell whether their child has temporary ‘puppy fat’ or is genuinely overweight. In adults, a simple formula of the body mass index (BMI) is used to work out a person’s right weight for his given height. It is slightly different, with children where BMI has to also account for the child’s rate of growth, sex and age. But the parents have to first realise that their child may be overweight. Unless the parents approach a paediatrician, the problem may never find a solution,” she says.

Giving an answer to why more and more children are becoming overweight, Dr Delia says, “Very few children become overweight because of a medical problem. Children are more likely to be overweight if their parents are obese. This may not be exactly a genetic problem, but more to do with the eating and dietary habits of a family. Families tend to share eating and activity habits. So, if the parents are obese, chances are that their children will also contract obesity.”

“In other words, most children put on excess weight because their lifestyles include an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity. Only a small percentage of childhood obesity is associated with a hormonal or genetic defect. An endogenous cause for obesity can be either suspected or eliminated from the differential diagnosis in virtually all children based on a careful history and physical examination,” she explains.

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