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Morbid Obesity in Children     

Several studies have shown that the slope of the child obesity graph is increasing steeply from the past three decades. Most of the children are found out to be over weight. What is more distressing is that few of them are overly overweight. That is these children are found to have weights more than 100 lbs. Their body mass index is about 35.0 or higher. This condition is called as morbid obesity. The reason for calling this kind of obesity as morbid obesity is because it encourages morbidity which is a condition which refers to the state of being diseased (from Latin morbidus: sick, unhealthy) or the degree or severity of a disease or the prevalence of a disease or the incidence of a disease or disability irrespective of cause (e.g., disability caused by accidents).

Why is morbid obesity seen in children?

The main reason behind the causal of morbid obesity in children is heredity though other reasons may be equally responsible. Some times two or more factors may also be responsible. Few other factors responsible for morbid obesity in children are described below.

Environmental conditions: Morbid obesity in children comes into the play when children get exposed to certain unhealthy environmental conditions. Life styles where both parents and children depend on fast foods and junks foods are also responsible for its causal.

Set point metabolism: People think that they lose weight by cutting down the calorie intake and gain weight by increasing the calorie intake. But recent studies have shown that this generally does not happen. According to these studies our brain has a set point fixed in it. When the calorie intake is decreased in order to lose weight, the brain automatically gives signals to lower the metabolic rate. As a result, all the weight is gained back.

Internal health problems: It may also occur because of internal health problems. One such internal health problem is under active thyroid or hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones which are necessary in the process of burning the fatty acids in the body are released by the thyroid gland. This process is termed as lipid metabolism. They regulate and boost up this process.  The production of these hormones is in turn controlled by another hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. In case of under active thyroid or hypothyroidism the hormone production is slowed down which in turn slows down the lipid metabolism in the body. As a result, fats are not readily burnt and are stored within the body. This will ultimately to morbid obesity.

Sedentary habits: A majority of the children are found to have sedentary habits like watching TV, playing video games, etc. A survey has showed that 8 out of 10 kids spend most of the time playing games in their costly cum highly configured gadgets and personal computers. Very few are found to be interested in the outdoor sports. Extra calories are not burnt because of less physical activity. As a result all these calories get deposited in the body as fat which will ultimately lead to morbid obesity.

What are the effects of morbid obesity?

Morbid obesity may lead to several health problems in the children. Few of them are mentioned below.

Type 2 Diabetes- In this case, glucose remains in the blood raising the blood sugar levels as it is not accepted by the cells. The reason behind this is found to be insulin resistance by the fat cells. This is an adult disease but is also seen in children suffering from morbid obesity.

High blood pressure/Heart disease- Children suffering from morbid obesity also have high blood pressure because of the increase in the body mass. Heart in such cases has to increase the pressure so that the blood reaches the entire body. This may further lead to severe conditions like heart and kidney damage.

Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints- Children with extra weight adds more pressure on the joints. This leads to a condition called osteoarthritis.

Sleep apnea/Respiratory problem- Extra fat blocks the passage way of the air in the body. Mainly fat present on the tongue and neck causes this condition.

Gastro esophageal reflux/Heartburn – Morbid obesity causes this condition during which the acids in the stomach move up causing a burning sensation in the heart.

Depression- Children who are suffering from morbid obesity suffer from depression when they compare themselves with the other kids.


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