Obesity In Children: Which BMI Is Relevant?

Obesity is common among children in Germany. Parents should take action with their pediatrician if they have a high body mass index.

Many children in Germany are overweight. According to the Robert Koch Institute, every seventh child between the ages of three and seven is affected. In later years there is a risk of secondary diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, parents should take countermeasures.

Obesity is fairly evenly distributed among children of both sexes. A total of 15.4 percent of all girls and boys between the ages of three and 17 are affected, according to studies by the Robert Koch Institute. Parents, together with their doctors, should take measures to prevent obesity in their children as early as possible.

How does obesity in children come about?

Researchers assume that overweight and obesity in children have a variety of causes. Genetic material plays a role. Obesity runs more frequently in some families. Poor exercise is also associated with high body weight. Last but not least, the wrong diet is one of the causes, such as fast food and sugary soft drinks. In rare cases, diseases such as hypothyroidism or mental illnesses can also lead to obesity. If the mother suffers from diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes), the risk of the child being overweight later is also increased.

What are the consequences of being overweight in children?

Obesity in children can have many physical and psychological consequences. In the medium term, the risk of a disorder of sugar metabolism (type 2 diabetes), high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia) increases, among other things. Later there is a risk of cardiovascular disease.

Adipose tissue itself is hormonally active and can disrupt hormone metabolism, which can lead to earlier puberty. Due to the greater body weight, orthopedic diseases are also likely, such as flat feet and splay feet or back pain.

Which BMI in children is still in the normal range?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the ratio of body weight in kilograms to the square height in square meters. It helps doctors to assess whether children are underweight, normal weight, slightly overweight, or severely overweight (obese). Specifying reference sizes is not as easy for children and young people as it is for adults. Doctors compare BMI values ​​using tables with reference values ​​for the respective age and gender.

If 90 percent of all children or adolescents in the group have lower BMI values ​​than the child examined, the children are said to be overweight.

If 97 percent are below it in the comparison tables, one speaks of obesity in children.

This procedure would be too cumbersome for parents. Click here for the free BMI calculator to quickly get values ​​including an evaluation. However, this tool does not replace a medical diagnosis.

How do doctors treat obesity in children?

When it comes to losing weight for children, doctors rely on a package of different measures. These include, above all, lifestyle changes, namely more exercise in everyday life and more sport. The diet also needs to be fundamentally changed. Fruit and vegetables should be the focus, while sugar and fats should be reduced. This can be done using the optimized mixed diet, an established nutritional concept. This usually makes it possible to successfully reduce obesity in children.

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