Childhood obesity is a global problem and how to prevent it.


Childhood obesity is a global problem and how to prevent it.

Obesity in childhood is one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century as stated by WHO.

By Mahmood Hussain 05th December 2017, write articles and blogs to be published in BABY FIRST PAKISTAN and also on Facebook/babyfirstPakistan and other social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. The writer is from Karachi, Pakistan Currently he is in Philadelphia, USA.

Obesity in children is linked to serious health-related problems. This may likely to increase the risk of premature illness and may lead to death in later part of life. We all need to be very watchful and educate the children how to remain healthy and fit.

The overall objective is to quantify the worldwide prevalence and trends of overweight and obesity among preschool children. This is to be assessed, based on the World Health Organization new standards and guidelines.

The study was conducted to estimate worldwide trend and prevalence of obesity and overweight in the children before going to school as per WHO guideline and recommendation of WHO.

It established “The obesity problem is universal”. Now its start affecting even the middle and low-income countries, like Pakistan which is my country of residence and our SARRC region which is comprised of 8 countries, having approximately more than 25% of global population. The obesity/overweight condition is likely to exist more in the urban and the mega cities. In recent time obesity among the children and its prevalence has increased at the tremendous pace. In the year 2016 globally, it is estimated 41 million children, below the age of five years were overweight. Out of which half of the overweight children under the age of five lived in Asia and nearly 25% are in Africa.

More possibility is overweight/obese children will remain obese during their adulthood.

They will have more possibility to develop the disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease when they will be in young adult age. The condition of obesity or overweight and associated disease can be prevented by following the healthy lifestyle.

It is very important to prevent and control obesity or overweight in childhood.

Parents need to give attention and priority to managing child weight within normal limit.  

The 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva from 20th -28th May 2013, it is comprising of WHO member states. They all agreed voluntarily in the meetings to:

Globally halt the non-communicable disease (NCD) such as diabetes and obesity.

WHA is the supreme decision-making body of WHO. Their members focus on specific health agenda

In another study conducted in 2010 states overall 43 million children were estimated to be overweight and obese, out of which 35million children were in developing countries. Globally another 92 million children were at risk of overweight.

Pakistan. The rise in Obesity is a cause of great concern.

In Pakistan obesity is on rise with the pace.  The overall country is suffering from obesity and refers to an emerging epidemic. In the female, its incidence is higher as compared to male. Obesity needs to be the focus and work on effective intervention at all population-level especially among urban population and children. All stakeholders the government and parents need to work to control obesity the emerging public health issue.


Daily Jang-27th November 2017 of Karachi a news appeared with headline

“In the country 27% male and 34% women who are overweight”.

This was disclosed during the World Anti-obesity Day awareness program held jointly by pharmacy graduate Association and IZA hospital at Nazimabad, Karachi.  During awareness seminar Dr. Zainul Husnain the head of Pharmacy Graduate Association stated, WHO reports in Pakistan overweight population comprises of 27% male and 34% are women and this % and the ratio is highly alarming.

While myself going through an interesting report published in the Nutrition update of June 2017 by Aga Khan University & Hospital. This states with the headline “How to prevent childhood obesity,”

As we know childhood obesity has become a serious global problem within last ten years. Childhood obesity is on the continuous rise. It is not only affecting the developed countries, but it is seriously damaging the developing and underdeveloped countries too. It is noticed more especially among the fluent and affording class of children in developing countries also.

The parents need to be continuously educated, how to slow down the obesity trend among children. In our SARRC region and developing countries strategies need to be devised to check this rising trend.

Below are few guidelines this may help in keeping the check on excessive weight gain or obesity.

How to prevent childhood obesity.

Start fruits and vegetables at the early age of childhood that is in year one. Start giving within the first year of the child the soft fruits and vegetables. Please avoid adding sugar or salt which is not good for the health of a baby. Ensure to make him/her familiar with the natural taste of these.

Keep a check and monitor intake of daily sugar consumed by baby. These are glucose, fructose, corn syrup or maltose. These are present in the natural form of food children consume daily. In this regard, FDA has enforced to label and show these as “added sugars” if added. These are also present in natural form and they are labeled as fruit extract and dry fruits. Ensure to keep track of any added sugar given, this needs to be strictly monitored because its consumption gives rise to obesity.

Make and ensure. child drink a good amount of safe and clean drinking water on daily basis.

Track and read the label on process foods. It is important before buying or giving process food to children, please read the nutrition value and calories on the label of the product. This will give idea how many calories, sugar, and fat are in per serving,

Solid food to baby will starts at the age of six months. It is highly recommended to use homemade foods, this should be started with natural food such as banana, boiled potato or homemade cereal or khichri to develop the taste of these healthy items. Please feed baby until two years on mother milk it is very important

In later months can add egg, yogurt, rice, lentils and bread (homemade roti or chapati), Avoid using packed and process food because these will expose the child to consume added sugar and more calories. Beside it, they are exposed to preservatives also. This means overloading and steering body towards obesity and later on towards diabetes and hypertension.

Avoid exposure of children to tv, mobile, laptop and tablet.  If they are exposed and know please restrict them for not facilitating more than one hour per day. This engages the children sitting in one place and their lifestyle will sedentary which may lead to overweight or obesity,

Physical Activity is also essential for children on daily basis. With latest technology and gadgets which is part and parcel in most of the houses. The children are getting addicted and prone, they lose their focus on physical activity. It is the responsibility of parent or caregiver to confine or limit its exposure to digital media for nursery rhyme, cartoon and children programs for 30 to 45 minutes per day.

Technology is compelling children to lose their focus on physical activity. The parent should encourage children to be physically active and limit the usage of digital devices to 30-40 minutes daily. Take the children outside the home, places such as the park, play area and public baby activity where they can run, walk, enjoy swing, see-saw, slide, sand and many more activities.

Beside these activities, they may likely to mingle and play with other young ones. You need to be there and watchful for their activities as well as encourage baby to enjoy the facility,

Avoid giving ready to use food items such as Pizza, pasta burgers and sandwiches or packed or street vendor potato chips. They are normally available with taste enhancer which is salt. these are cooked or made in oil, also contain bad starch such as Maida. All these items are full of calories, fat and sugar which will lead to overweight or obesity.

If you need to give it to your children such foods do make these at home and also use a lot of vegetables in it.

Avoid junk foods for yourself and children. We are tempted with these and children do taste it. Now very common fast foods are rolls, samosa, patties, bakery items and the list goes on.

No to the cold drink and packed juices. These are rich in calories and offer no nutritional value.

Article was written by Mahmood Hussain for Baby First Pakistan website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other popular social media

About Mahmood Hussain

Professional Experience More than 36 years work experience in Healthcare & Pharmaceutical sectorDirector & General Manager Baby First (Pvt.) Ltd Pakistan March 2011 – till to date I have been associated with Baby First (Pvt) Ltd for more than 5 years. It is advisory, community and social interaction medium for parents 16-38 years and babies 0-6 years.General Manager Aga Khan Health Service Pakistasn December 2005 – December 2007 (2 years 1 month)Based at Karachi Pakistan Worked as General Manager managing Karachi & Baluchistan Health care services of AKHSP which includes primary and secondary health care centers and diagnostic centers on all areas nearly 102 centers which include three leading hospitals in Karachi.General Manager Janssen Cilag (Johnson & Johnson) February 1998 – January 2005 (7 years)Education MBA, Marketing 1995 – 1996, Preston University MSc, Biochemistry 1970 – 1974, Karachi University

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