The so-called in Greece “occupation syndrome” has grown generations and generations of Greeks, with dominant characteristic the child to eat – willingly or not – all of his food and not only that, so as “to grow up”, “to be strong” but also “not to be eaten by the wolf!”
Until a few years ago, the fat of Greek children was not considered as a problem by most parents, since it was common belief that no matter the extra kilos, it was a sign of well-being and after all those kilos would one day convert to …height. If it were so, then most of us would be today about 2 meters tall 🙂
However, reality is completely different, as childhood obesity is considered as one of the major problems that the western world faces, with 25% of children to be overweight or obese. It is a polygenic and multifactorial disease, because it is due to many factors, others related to the environment, some to heredity and others to our way of living.
Numbers as always speak the language of truth. Research of the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition from the Harokopio University of Greece, conducted on a sample of 867.000 students over 13 years (1997-2009), showed that 4 out of 10 children are obese. In another EU survey in 2011, it was found that 50% of Greek children aged 10-12 years had weight problem: 20% were obese and 30% overweight.
Regarding nutrition, the mistakes we make and which foods contribute to obesity are already well known. We also know very well that the lack of regular exercise or in general the lack of just moving our feet (by walking or light jogging), exacerbate the problem.
But there are some other elements that affect the weight of a child, before barely being born. For example, if the mother is already obese or overweight before becoming pregnant, then the risk for the child to become obese is doubled. Moreover, active smoking during pregnancy, or exposure of the infant to passive smoking, as well as breastfeeding for less than three months, increase by 2,5 times the risk of a child to become obese at the age of four years.
Furthermore, a study of the University of Crete showed that children who are not having breakfast may take up to 3 extra kilos. Even the speed, with which we consume our food, is a negative factor.
Childhood obesity is associated with a variety of health problems such as psychosocial (low self-esteem, social isolation, depression), breathing (sleep apnea, asthma), gastrointestinal (gastroesophageal reflux disease, fatty infiltration of the liver, cholelithiasis), musculoskeletal (flat feet, dislocated ankles, fractured forearm), cardiovascular (hypertension, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis), endocrine (type II diabetes, insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome). These problems may occur either in childhood or later in adulthood and pose a serious health threat. Note that, for people who were obese or overweight as children, it is more difficult to lose weight compared to those who got fat as adults.
So, since prevention is always better than cure, let us the parents set a good example to our children regarding proper nutrition and physical activity and be immediately activated whenever we pick up the problem. Because the sooner the diagnosis is made by the pediatrician, the more effective will the treatment of obesity be, with the help of specialists (endocrinologist, nutritionist).
Get rid of your children’s unnecessary weights …it’s good for you!