March 20, 2020 | by Iulia Hadarean

Overweight and obesity among school children

Obesity in children is an important health problem and its prevalence is rising throughout the world, with an alarming trend for Europe.

The health consequences of being overweight during childhood are not yet well established, but an analysis shows that obesity in childhood is strongly associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, orthopedic problems and emotional disturbances.

Over 60% of children that have excess weight before puberty will be overweight in the first stage of maturity.

According to WHO statistics (World Health Organization), the prevalence of obesity has tripled since 1980, and in 2010 there were more than 40 million children aged under 5 in the whole world.

The COSI national report (2017) shows a rather gloomy statistic for Romania: At the age of 7, overweight prevalence is 31.1% and obesity is 25.6%. At the age of 8, the overweight prevalence is somewhat higher, 31.5% and obesity by 22.5%. At the age of 9, the prevalence of overweight is even higher, 33.5% and obesity 21.5%. This shows that among school children, problems with excess weight are becoming more and more visible every year.

Children become overweight for a variety of reasons.

The most common causes among school children are lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns and genetic factors.

Physical activity and the habit of healthy eating are the most important, which are crucial for an optimal weight. Genetic factors are also important, but to a lesser extent because a child with a genetic burden of overweight or obesity but exposed in a favorable environment is likely to have an optimal weight. Only in very rare cases overweight or obesity are caused by medical conditions (different syndromes or hormonal problems).

Children whose families are experiencing excess weight are indeed at a higher risk of taking over this burden, but this is largely, if not exclusively, due to the less healthy family habits (poor nutrition and sedentarism).

How can I help my child in this situation?

If you have an overweight child, it is very important to give him all the support he needs, the children's feelings about themselves are often based on the feelings of their parents. It is also important to talk to your children about their weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.

Source: Dr. Constanţa Huidumac and Lăcrămioara Brînduş, Assessment of the nutritional status of children in the primary cycle according to WHO methodology by participating in the project "European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative" COSI. National Report Romania, 2017.

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