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Child Obesity: Causes and Consequences
Obesity is a very common disease in children and more than an aesthetic problem represents a significant impact on the health of these. This condition is mainly characterized by excessive presence of body fat. Childhood obesity is a state that originates from various factors and brings multiple consequences.
This complex disease is multifactorial, it can already arise due to exogenous factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, anxiety, depression, stress and consumption of some drugs. In addition, its origin is due to endogenous factors such as genetics. However, exogenous factors are the most frequent.
Bad diet is the main cause of childhood obesity. Many children carry a very high food in fat, carbohydrates and sugars, that is, they frequently ingest caloric foods. Traditional feeding patterns have changed as a result of bad nutritional habits and the increase in "fast foods" (Rodríguez & Diaz, 2014).
Fast food is characterized by its low nutritional quality, the absence of dietary fibers and the presence of chemical addictives, fats and salt (Rodríguez & Diaz, 2014). Pizzas, hamburgers, hotdogs and other foods with excess saturated fats are the most consumed by infants, ignoring the serious consequences that they can cause in health. Consuming these foods with very few nutrients influence the increase in body mass, cholesterol and the development of obesity (Rodríguez & Diaz, 2014).
It has also increasingly increased sugary food consumption (sweets, chocolates, cakes, etc.) and drinks such as soft drinks or artificial juices, which have great influence on the origin of obesity. However, the consumption of fruits, cereals, legumes and vegetables have been excluded from children’s eating habits, since their intake is less frequent every day. That is, that obesity arises mainly due to excessive consumption of foods rich in salt, fat and sugar, but poor in vitamins, fibers and minerals.
According to Martin, the increase of women in the workplace has caused that they do not have enough time to make more nutritious foods and that therefore children consume precooked dishes with many calories (2016). Foods with high energy or ultra content are very consumed by children and are the most impact on their health.
Anxiety is a relevant factor in the origin of obesity. This phenomenon takes place when children feel vulnerable and seek adaptation (Dias & Enriquez, 2007). To reduce anxiety, children turn to eat constantly, since when chewing they spend energy and satisfy their condition (Dias & Enriquez, 2007). As you use food to satisfy your anxiety, child body mass is increasing (Dias & Enriquez, 2007).
There are different types of anxiety, however, normal is the most frequent. Children who present normal anxiety face different demands and concerns that are difficult to control (Dias & Enriquez, 2007). For example, the separation of parents or the death of a relative cause the child to take refuge in food.
Genetics has great impact on childhood obesity. Obese children generally have a family history who possess this condition (Dias & Enriquez, 2007). This can be given in three cases: the monogenic or Mendelian, the syndromatic and the common one (Peralta, Jesus, & Hector, 2014). Common genetic obesity is the most frequent in children, since it covers the imbalance problems that exist between consumption and the use of ingested energy (Peralta, Jesus, & Hector, 2014).
Syndromic obesity refers to those cases where this disease is moderate or extreme (Peralta, Jesus, & Hector, 2014). The monogenic form is one in which the phenotype of a predominates (Peralta, Jesus, & Hector, 2014). That is, if the gene of one of the parents is dominant, the child has a high possibility that in his life stage it is also. (Peralta, Jesus, & Hector, 2014).
Monogenic obesity is responsible for more than 5% of cases of obesity (Quiroja, 2017). The research of this type of obesity is very important, since it allows to know the genes that are inherited in a Mendelian way and thus determines the mechanisms that influence food behavior (Quiroja, 2017). According to Ignatieva et al (2006), there are 578 genes that influence eating habits and body weight regulation (as cited in Quiroja, 2017).
Sedentary lifestyle causes obesity in children. There is a close relationship between sedentary activities, that is, those that do not require physical effort and childhood obesity. A large percentage of children have modified their recreational activities, prioritizing sedentaries over physics. For anyone it is a secret that physical activity is very necessary for the correct functioning of the organism, however, many children consume high food in calories and do not carry out activities to eliminate them. Sedentary people cause their body to get used to not making many efforts and therefore when they execute physical activity they feel very tired.
According to Castro, the increase in technology is the main factor that affects the preference of sedentary lifestyle, since it is very usual to observe in the electronic devices that children use daily (2015 as cited in Lozano, 2019). Many children spend long hours in front of a television, computer or video game and leave aside the practices that require physical efforts. As technology progresses constantly, children have multiple entertainment means that do not imply energy expenditure, so sedentary lifestyle is increasingly common.
There are several scientific evidence that corroborates that the inactivity fouls in children influence weight gain and therefore obesity (Trejo, Jasso, Massado and Lugo 2012 as cited in Lozano, 2019). As children with sedentary life styles do not execute many movements, fat ingested in food accumulates in their body and their cardiovascular apparatus becomes increasingly inefficient. When combining a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet arises the obesity and the various problems that it brings.
The consumption of some medications can cause obesity in children. The drugs used in the treatment of depression, bipolarity disorder, cushing syndrome, psychosis, cause this condition. The effects produced by these are derived from an anticholinergic action that causes constipation and urinary retention (Ríos, 2008).
Some antidepressants such as tricyclics and trazodone are the main medications that increase body weight (Ríos, 2008). These drugs are frequently used in adults, but when the problem is why the child is happening, the doctor proceeds to indicate them (Ríos, 2008). Mirtazapine in particular increases appetite and as a consequence it causes obesity (Ríos, 2008).
There are more than 20 medications that are used to control psychosis (Ríos, 2008). Chlorpromacin is one of the first drugs created for this disease. According to investigations, people who consume these medications increase 4 kilos in three months and the effect is due to block H1 receptors (Ríos, 2008).
Lithium is one of the salts used to treat bipolarity. It was confirmed that patients during their treatment increase weight because it increases thirst and encourages the consumption of liquids that contain many calories (Ríos, 2008). Another drug used for this disease is carbamazepine, however, unlike lithium this can cause an increase in lower body mass (Ríos, 2008).
Obesity presents a serious health problem that causes multiple damage to the body and decreases the quality of life of children (Rossis, 2006). This condition can cause different diseases, such as: pulmonary, cardiac, metabolic and liver. In addition, it stimulates psychological disorders.
Obesity in children causes heart weakness, since it causes heart failure (Enrique & Peña, 2009). This disease implies the formation of clots in the blood because if the blood does not circulate correctly it can cause heart disease and in turn that the lack of oxygen dies heart cells (Enrique & Peña, 2009). Another risk factor of heart disease in obese children is the decrease in high density lipoproteins, which causes elimination of the circulatory tree and decrease in blood (Enrique & Peña, 2009).
Obesity has a close relationship with type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and hypertension (Enrique & Peña, 2009). In relation to diabetes, the greater the body mass, the less its sensitivity to insulins (Enrique & Peña, 2009) will be. In obese children the risk of a coronary or carotid disease is higher (Enrique & Peña, 2009). In addition, childhood obesity can cause different types of cancers, osteoarthritis, hypercholesterolemia and gastrointestinal/liver complications.
One of the main consequences of childhood obesity is low self – esteem (Miranda, 2018). In this condition the overweight children do not appreciate themselves, they feel limited in terms of their abilities and excluded in several areas (Miranda, 2018). Also, infants who present obesity are usually victims of bullying, however, they can act on the defensive (Miranda, 2018). The consequence of this state is that the child does not usually have friends, causes stress and isolation (Miranda, 2018).
Lung diseases can manifest as a result of obesity. Thoracic restriction is produced by the presence of fat in the diaphragm and thorax. In addition, this hinders respiratory capacity from a simple disturbance to the most severe situation, giving rise to different diseases such as asthma (Rabec, Lucas Ramos, & Veale, 2011).
Liver diseases are linked to childhood obesity (Enrique & Peña, 2009). When there is excess fat in the liver can cause hepatic steatosis and cirrhosis (Enrique & Peña, 2009). These diseases can cause dangerous complications such as: digestive hemorrhage, edema and ascites (Enrique & Peña, 2009).
In conclusion, childhood obesity is a disease that affects children at the physical and psychological level. This condition is caused by multiple factors and bring innumerable consequences that decrease the quality of life of infants. Consume foods with excess fat and implement a sedentary lifestyle are the main habits that originate it. However, anxiety, genetics and consumption of some drugs can also cause it. This condition has a significant impact on children’s health, since it can cause different diseases such as: cardiac, metabolic, pulmonary and psychological.