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Challenge to obesity in children

Overweight and obesity presents an important global health problem, with an upward trend. However, this development is not limited to adults, it is increasingly affecting children and adolescents. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 41 million overweight children under the age of five worldwide in 2016, from which around half were in Asia and one quarter in Africa. The USA takes a prominent position. The number of overweight and obese children of school age has tripled since 1970 and now accounts for around 20%. The classification of overweight and obesity in children is not consistent and is to some extent differently defined. Nonetheless, the Body Mass Index (BMI) is often measured. The US American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define overweight as a BMI above the 85th and obesity beyond the 95th percentile. Other sources make use of the fat percentage and define overweight from a fat content of 25-30%, depending on gender.

Excessive weight has severe health effects and enhances the risk of a multitude of chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus type 2, arterial hypertension, as well as cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases. It can also become a burden on the psyche. Overweight children are more likely to be victims of bullying, or suffer from depression, self-esteem disorders and social isolation. Furthermore, the risk of obesity in adulthood and the diseases associated with it are greatly increased. For several years, because of its overall societal relevance, the WHO has dedicated itself to the fight against childhood obesity. Preventative measures are cost-effective and have a good response in children and adolescents and, therefore, can effectively prevent future diseases.

The causes are widely known and, next to genetic predispositions, especially include lifestyle factors, such as malnutrition, overeating, lack of exercise, as well as social environment and the role model function of parents. The latest research results indicate that, before and during pregnancy, the nutritional status and eating habits of parents have an influence on a child's risk of obesity later in life. On that account, prevention should already begin with future parents or those with a desire to have children. A key factor is to maintain a healthy diet and the promotion of healthy eating habits by parents and educational institutions. The consumption of high energy, fat, and sugar-containing products should be eliminated, while the proportion of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet should be increased. Daily physical activity should also become a part of everyday life.

Risk identification and follow-up examinations constitute the basis for effective prevention. Because of this, regular weight checks are indispensable in order to detect the early onset of overweight and to evaluate the effectiveness of adopted measures. As the world market leader in the field of measuring and weighing technology, seca offers a wide spectrum of specialized scales that satisfy all demands from infancy to adulthood. With the help of baby scales, such as the seca 376 and pediatric measurement systems, measurements can be precisely recorded up until early childhood, and applied to the regular control of physical development. The risk of weight problems is increasing in toddlers and school-age children, therefore, regular controls in everyday life must not be neglected. Connected and automated measuring systems, such as the column scale seca 704 s or the measuring station seca 287 dp, are particularly suitable for routine examinations in the outpatient sector. Overweight and obesity prevention is simple and cost-effective, primarily in children. It can effectively decrease the risk of many chronic diseases, avoid suffering and increase the cost-effectiveness of the healthcare system.

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