One of the major problems of our time is obesity in children and adolescents. Every day the number of such patients increases, and this is simply terrifying. To explain this trend is extremely simple, because the main cause of overweight is lack of physical activity, and poor diet.
In some cases, obesity can be the result of malfunctions of the thyroid gland, tumors in the brain, as well as other serious health problems. For this reason, each parent is simply obliged to closely monitor the state of health of their child, and any deviations in weight should be alerted and encouraged to consult a doctor.
If obesity began to develop in early childhood, then it can cause dangerous complications. In overweight children, the risk of such illnesses increases significantly:
- liver failure;
- disorders of the gallbladder.
Already in adulthood, such patients will be exposed to relatively early development of infertility, myocardial infarction, and coronary heart disease.
The tactics of obesity treatment will depend entirely on its premises and include the following principles:
- high-quality diet;
- constant exercise;
- medicinal or surgical treatment (if necessary).
By and large, you still need to know from what point you can begin to talk about obesity of varying degrees. The weight of each individual child will directly depend on his gender, height, and genetic predisposition.
Equally important will be overall health and eating habits.
Medicine knows several ways to detect overweight in a child.
The main causes of obesity in children
There are 2 main types of obesity:
- alimentary (caused by poor nutrition and lack of adequate physical activity of the child);
- endocrine (occurs in children and adolescents with serious problems of the endocrine glands: adrenal glands, thyroid, and ovaries).
Based on some of the characteristics that are associated with obesity, it will already be possible to guess the cause of this process.
If a child is overweight, then first you should pay attention to his parents. If overweight is also observed in them, then there may be talk about improper eating behavior.
Such a family can daily consume a sufficiently large amount of high-calorie foods that will contain too much carbohydrate and fat. If so, that most likely the child suffers from alimentary type of obesity.
In such a situation, the child’s obesity will be completely due to the mismatch between the calories consumed and the energy expended. This energy imbalance is the result of low patient mobility.
If we are talking about babies, then overweight is a consequence of inadequate introduction of complementary foods, which is excessively rich in carbohydrates and fats. Older children may have extra pounds if they spend all their time playing computer games or in front of the TV. All energy obtained from food remains in the fat depot.
An important distinguishing feature of alimentary obesity is unhealthy diet and inadequate lifestyle.
In those cases when the child was overweight since birth or some developmental delays are observed, it is very likely that obesity is caused by congenital problems with the thyroid gland. Development retardation may be delayed:
- holding head.
In addition, there may be swelling of the face of the baby. All of the above will indicate hypothyroidism.
In cases where obesity of various degrees is observed against a background of mental retardation, muscle weakness and strabismus, then there may be talk of congenital genetic abnormalities, for example, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome (as in the photo).
Obesity in children and adolescents. Symptoms
If obesity of any degree is accompanied by the following symptoms, then there is the likelihood of acquired hypothyroidism:
- fast fatiguability;
- low school performance;
- poor appetite;
- dry skin;
- bags under the eyes.
This type of hypothyroidism is characterized by problems with the functioning of the thyroid gland, and a significant iodine deficiency. As a rule, the disease, if more than a girl in puberty, can become the reason for the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) or other violations of this cycle.
If excessive mass is deposited on the stomach, neck, face, then it is possible that the child suffers from Itsenko-Cushing syndrome. It is characterized by other symptoms, for example, disproportionately thin arms and legs, the rapid formation of stretch marks of purple color (they are also called stretch marks).
In this disease, there is an oversupply of hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands.
If obesity of various degrees in children is accompanied by headaches, they may indicate the presence of a tumor. Against the background of weight problems and migraines, other symptoms may occur:
- an increase in the mammary glands (both in boys and girls). Galactorrhea (excretion of milk from the glands), impaired menstruation cycle in girls can be noted. If this happens, then we are talking about prolactinoma - a neoplasm in the pituitary gland, which produces prolactin (the hormone responsible for producing milk during lactation). In addition, prolactinoma is also possible in boys. In this case, there will also be breast augmentation, pain in the head, and other manifestations of high intracranial pressure;
- in the event that signs of hypothyroidism are also attached to these symptoms, then most likely obesity in adolescents will be caused by a pituitary tumor. As a result, impaired hormone production, which stimulates the thyroid gland, will be noted;
- when joining the characteristic manifestations of Itsenko-Cushing syndrome, there is a high probability of a pituitary tumor. Such a tumor will produce an excessive amount of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which is responsible for the release of glucocorticosteroids by the adrenal glands.
There are cases when a male teenager will experience symptoms of lagging puberty and gynecomastia. The most likely cause of this process can be called adiposogenital dystrophy. This disease is caused by the insufficiency of pituitary hormones that stimulate the development of the mammary glands.
In girls, the listed symptoms will indicate the presence of polycystic ovary.
What is the main danger of obesity?
Obesity in children (photo) can be the cause of too early diseases that are not characteristic of this age group:
- type 2 diabetes;
- cirrhosis of the liver;
- coronary heart disease.
These diseases can significantly worsen the health of the child and reduce the quality of his life.
There are the following complications of obesity of varying severity:
- Since the cardiovascular system: atherosclerosis, increased blood pressure, chronic heart failure, angina. These problems, which are characteristic of people of old age, cause many problems for overweight children;
- On the part of the digestive system: chronic inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), hemorrhoid, frequent constipation. Fat deposition in the liver causes lipid hepatosis (steatosis). This disease is characterized by insufficient liver function due to the displacement of normal adipose tissue. Rarely, steatosis causes cirrhosis of the liver;
- On the part of the bones and joints, skeletal deformities, pain in the joints, and flat feet can be observed. Overweight children will suffer from valgus deformity of the knees (the legs will have the shape of an X);
- In case of insufficiency of the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas and ensures optimal glucose uptake, diabetes mellitus of the second type of flow occurs. The characteristic signs of diabetes are: drowsiness, constant thirst, excessive appetite, weakness, frequent urge to urinate;
- Obese children will suffer from sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea (periodic lack of breathing).
Women who are obese from early childhood have many chances to remain fruitless for life.
Different degrees of obesity in children and adolescents can be the cause of many social problems. Such children will have serious difficulties in communicating with their peers.
Often, on this background, depression develops, which can exacerbate obesity by drug addiction, alcoholism and eating disorders, for example, bulimia or anorexia (as in the photo).
How is obesity treated?
Tactics of getting rid of extra pounds in a child will directly depend on the reasons for their occurrence. Without fail, the doctor will recommend:
- health food;
- normalized exercise;
- drug therapy;
- surgical intervention (if necessary).
Treatment of obesity in childhood and adolescence is a very long process. Each stage of it must necessarily be agreed between the parents of the sick child and the attending physician.
Diet nutrition and physical education
The main goal of the diet and physical activity is not just weight loss, but also high-quality prevention of further weight gain. With minor obesity, the child will be shown only food, specially designed for weight loss.
Weight loss should always be smooth. Sharp weight gains are simply unacceptable!
Special nutrition should be adhered to strictly in accordance with the recommendations of the endocrinologist. The doctor will take into account all the individual characteristics of the body of a sick child and will calculate its daily need for fats, carbohydrates, protein, trace elements, and vitamins. This may be, for example, a diet with a low glycemic index.
Physical culture will include:
- outdoor games;
In order for a child to become interested in sports, each parent must set his own example and encourage him for any achievements.
Even ordinary daily 30-minute walks will help improve the well-being of the child, and reduce the likelihood of developing obesity complications of varying degrees.
The psychological climate in the family will play a significant role. It is important to help the child overcome the obstruction of excess weight and make him understand that you should not dwell on it.
Treatment of obesity can be carried out with the help of various drugs that can suppress the appetite. The doctor will prescribe medication only as a last resort. This is due to the lack of sufficient research on this issue.
If the cause of obesity lies in hormonal imbalance, then in this case, the result can be achieved with a combination of physical activity, diet and treatment of the root causes of the development of excess weight.
In those cases when, against the background of obesity in adolescents, diabetes mellitus began to develop, therapy will also provide for therapeutic nutrition.
Physicians resort to operative intervention extremely seldom. This is only necessary if there are serious vital indications, for example, in the absence of an operation, there is a high probability of death.