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    Childhood Obesity, a Growing Health Issue in Costa Rica

    An unnoticed enemy

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    When we talk about childhood obesity, we are not just referring to a few extra pounds. We also refer to a health problem that can have serious consequences if we ignore its evolution. It is of great importance to become aware and responsible regarding this issue since the children of today represent the future of our country and the entire world.

    The World Health Organization (WHO), along with other health authorities worldwide, agree that childhood obesity is one of the most serious health problems of this century. Affecting most of the developed and developing countries. The WHO defines obesity and overweight as: “an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that poses a risk to health.”

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    Causal factors


    Inadequate diet: When we refer to an inappropriate diet, we are not only referring to what we eat. Also how much we eat and in what way we do it. What we eat is as important as the order in which we eat it, especially to promote good and healthy habits in children.

    Soft drinks, sweets, smoothies, cereals, and junk food are a large part of the current lists of meals for children in many of the Homes, this due to their quick preparation or the practical way of serving them, managing to substitute vegetables, meats, grains and other healthy foods.

    Sedentarism: This factor has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to the substitution of games and physical activities for the extreme use of game consoles, tablets and the overuse of cell phones, all of these together have managed to gradually cancel out the activities and physical performance of children around the world developing obesity and along with it diseases such as diabetes.

    Genetic factors: Although they do not depend on us, it is our duty to act when they are present, genetic factors should not be an excuse to justify obesity.

    Prevention


    Overweight, obesity and related diseases can be prevented, as long as there is an improvement in children’s habits, ranging from food to activities. Raising awareness and being aware is the most sustainable way to maintain good habits and good health in future generations.

    Consequences


    The main and most common consequences are: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. But apart of these these there can be many more:

    Excess weight: directly affects the bones, joints and the entire locomotor system, thus reducing tolerance to physical exercise, causing fat stowage in turn and also respiratory disorders.

    Self-esteem problems: Being overweight can affect children’s emotional development. Feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem, of rejection and isolation developing antisocial and probably depressive behaviors. All these states lead to increased food intake and sedentary lifestyle, further aggravating overweight to morbid obesity.

    Tips to prevent morbid obesity?


    Become aware of the disease and all the consequences that it brings as such.
    Set an example with actions: Children focus more on what they observe than on what they hear.
    Change in eating habits: being advised by a nutritionist is ideal.
    Encouraging the child to exercise: seek an active hobby or sport is very important, walk, run, ride a bike or simply play in the park. It’s just a matter of the child not being locked up or playing video games. Generating good exercise and eating habits in children will not only free them from being exposed to obesity but will also teach them to live in a healthy way.

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