Obesity: Less is more


OBESITY is not a condition but a disease that occurs like a global epidemic among children of all ages. Children who has this condition are more likely to retain it when they grow up as adolescents and adults.

In simpler term, obesity can be defined as excessive fat that affects health. It can be measured by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI). For children and adolescents, the BMI is measured using age and gender-based on WHO’s growth reference curves.

According to the World Health Organization (2018), in 2016 there are 41 million children under the age of 5 were obese and over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were obese in 2016 worldwide.

Childhood obesity mainly involves children in lower socio-economic groups. These groups contribute more to obesity because they cannot afford to buy or eat nutritious food.

However, in developing countries like Malaysia, childhood obesity is prevalent among upper and lower socio-economic groups. This happens because upper socioeconomic groups tend to buy the wrong kind of foods, while lower socio-economic groups will buy cheaper, less nutritious and high-calorie foods.

Williams & Greene (2018) has identified 5 components that may contribute to childhood obesity:
– Nutrition (Unbalanced diet or consume too much fat and sugar)
– Physical activity (Levels of total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in children are – very low)
– Mental health and mood (Eating patterns and interest in participation in activities)
– Sleep routine (Children do not get adequate sleep)
– Media usage (Eating while viewing screen leading to greater intake of food)

Childhood obesity can begin at an early age. Parents have to set a limit and boundaries to avoid this from happening. They have to teach their children what to eat, limiting sweet food intake or reducing screen time while eating.

That is why we call less is more because children who take less sugar are healthier and children who focus on consuming enough amount of foods are better. Parents also can feed their children with more fruits, and vegetables.

Encourage children to run and play, or play together with them. Provide better nutrition at home and at school to prevent children from becoming adolescents or adults at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer due to obesity (World Health Organization, 2017).

Moreover, the prevention and treatment of obesity can be made by tracking children’s health and body weight because it can be a significant obesity indicator during later childhood and adolescence (World Obesity Federation, 2018).

In conclusion, childhood obesity is one of the challenges faced by global public health in the 21st century. Childhood obesity cannot be taken lightly because it happens all around the world.

Everyone should take preventive measures and be alert on this matter because obesity is not a condition but it is a disease that is preventable. Parents, teachers or certain government agencies must play a role to reduce the increased number of childhood obesity based on the identified causes that can contribute more to childhood obesity.

We can save our younger generation by showing a good example starting with our lifestyle and food.


Norshahira Mohamad Hashim


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