A Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Abiola Oduwole, says obese children are now coming down with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Prof. Oduwole who is also a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital stated that children with obesity experience the same problem that adults with obesity experience, warning parents to be wary of their children’s lifestyle and eating habits.
The clinician disclosed this during an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, stressing that physical activity is the way to go in the management of obesity both in adults and children.
She noted that engaging obese children in regular physical activities remain crucial if they must lose weight.
Prof. Oduwole who is also President of the Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Endocrine in Nigeria said 70 per cent of obesity in children has to do with nutrition and the environment.
According to her, the remaining 30 per cent has to do with endocrine problems – hormonal problems, warning parents with premature babies not to overfeed them.
Giving insight into the causes and risk of obesity in children, the endocrinologist said, “A lot of children don’t walk to school anymore instead they enter vehicles.
“Most schools do not have playgrounds for the children to play and because of insecurity a lot of children are now indoors.
“Before there were lots of open grounds for children to play. But things have changed. All of those are helping to increase the rate of overweight and obese children in urban areas.
“In the rural area, we still have under-nutrition. Hardly will you find a child that is obese but you will find underweight children.
“The problem we have now is that more and more incursion of what is happening in the urban area is moving into the rural area.”
Lamenting the dangers, she said, “Now, we are beginning to see overweight children in the rural area and that was how obesity started in the urban area. We were seeing very few obese children, we were seeing more overweight and now we are seeing obese and overweight at a higher level in the rural area.
“Unfortunately, unlike before, we are now beginning to see hypertension in our children because they are obese.
“Yes, it is happening. And to show that things are changing, you have what is called prediabetes. Prediabetes is a stage before it becomes Type 2 diabetes and now we are beginning to see it in children.”
The professor stated that before, Type 2 diabetes was not diagnosed in children, a worrisome development she blamed on obesity.
“Before we don’t see Type 2 diabetes in children, if we see diabetes, we say they are Type 1. But now we are seeing Type 2 diabetes in children which is the one that we see in adults as a result of obesity.
“What we are saying is that we are beginning to find comorbidities of obesity and overweight amongst our children, we are beginning to see hypertension, prediabetes, high lipid profile, things that we didn’t see in children before,” she said.
Prof. Oduwole urged parents and teachers to avoid calling children with obesity names, stressing that children have feelings and encouraging them to be involved in regular physical activities.
The American Heart Association says overweight children and adolescents are more likely than other children and adolescents to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (eg, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus).
The foundation noted that overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults.
“Overweight children and adolescents may experience other health conditions associated with increased weight, which include asthma, hepatic steatosis, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
“Obesity puts children at long-term higher risk for chronic conditions such as stroke; breast, colon, and kidney cancers; musculoskeletal disorders; and gallbladder disease”, the foundation said.
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