"Childhood obesity: undiscovered public health challenge for Nepal"
Mother’s love, yes, it is pure, true and cannot be compared to anything. Mothers always see their children young and juvenile. They are happiest when their children eat more and more. They never realize that their children are already obese or overweight. Here, I am not blaming mothers love and care, but I am just from where the obesity begins.
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When the child becomes bigger in width as comparable to the height, we call it obese or overweight. Nepalese society considers being bigger is healthier and happier but they don’t have any idea about what sorts of health problems such perceptions can result in future.
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Childhood obesity has been major concerns for people of all age groups, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Globally, the trend of childhood obesity has increased from 32 million in 1990 to 42 million in 2013 (WHO: 2013). However, due to much focus on under nutrition program, research evidences are not much available in Nepal regarding obesity. Increased prevalence of childhood obesity in neighboring countries suggests that such increasing trend is inevitable in Nepal too.
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Childhood obesity is not the consequence of a single cause, it is provoked by genetic, endocrine, metabolic, socio cultural, and environmental factors. Childhood obesity is more prevalent in areas with rapid urbanization, cultural transitions, and commodification of food systems and has shown strong associations with sedentary lifestyle, sleeping patterns, eating patterns, television watching and internets etc. In Nepal the consumption of junk foods with high amount of calorie by children is increasing however the physical activity is decreasing. Even though the schools made rules and regulations to avoid junk food, they pay less attention to children’s physical activity and hand students with lots of homework that only includes mental exercises.
Even though the consequences are seen in adulthood, obesity can be etiological factors for much chronic illness like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, orthopedic and psychosocial disorders. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are increasing globally with no exception to Nepal.
Obesity can be prevented from the time of breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age can reduce childhood obesity in great ratio. Intake of balanced diet, proper time for rest and work, sufficient physical exercise at home and school can prevent overweigsht in children. Obesity free school approach can be useful to prevent obesity. Furthermore, collaboration between government and non government organizations to instigate educative program to prevent obesity can be important approach. Burden of obesity should be reduced before it turns it into an epidemic, otherwise government should invest maximum amount of money to cure non communicable disease. Prevention is better than cure, isn’t it??