Fat kids make fat, sick adults

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

BE care­ful what you feed your chil­dren and how much food you put on their plates: you may be rais­ing them to be­come obese and sickly adults.

Sci­en­tific re­search shows that obese chil­dren and teens are likely to be­come obese adults.

Sev­eral stud­ies have also re­vealed that obese chil­dren will be at a higher risk of de­vel­op­ing life­style dis­eases such as heart dis­ease, type 2 di­a­betes, os­teoarthri­tis and sev­eral types of can­cers, and may also suf­fer strokes in adult­hood.

In South Africa, obe­sity is reach­ing alarm­ing pro­por­tions, not only in adults, but also in chil­dren.

Cur­rently, about 70 per­cent of women and 40 per­cent of men are ei­ther obese or over­weight. And the first SA Na­tional Health and Nu­tri­tion Ex­am­i­na­tion Sur­vey — con­ducted four years ago — found that one in four girls and one in five boys be­tween the ages of two and 14 were over­weight or obese.

Med­i­cal ex­perts put the blame on par­ents for the rapidly in­creas­ing rate of obe­sity among South African chil­dren, say­ing it is the high amounts of sugar and salty foods given to their off­spring from an early age that is con­tribut­ing to this emerg­ing epi­demic.

Dr Sun­deep Ruder, an en­docri­nol­o­gist at Life Four­ways Hos­pi­tal and as­so­ciate lec­turer at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, says what chil­dren are fed dur­ing their devel­op­ment phases is crit­i­cal be­cause “you are feed­ing in­for­ma­tion into the child while their hor­mones are de­cid­ing what to do”.

“The word hor­mone is de­rived from the Greek word, which means ‘to set in mo­tion’. By putting the wrong in­for­ma­tion in chil­dren’s bod­ies at the early stages of life, you are al­ready set­ting in mo­tion all the wrong out­comes. What this tells us is that we need to mod­ify the present for the ben­e­fit of our fu­ture,” he says.

Lynn Mo­eng, chief di­rec­tor of health pro­mo­tion, nu­tri­tion and oral health at the na­tional de­part­ment of health, agrees: “What we are see­ing is fright­en­ing and if we do not deal with it [child­hood obe­sity], we will end up see­ing these chil­dren be­come over­weight and obese adults.”

Ruder sheds light on what hap­pens when chil­dren are fed the wrong sorts of foods. “Stud­ies show that a high in­take of sugar in young chil­dren and pubescent teenagers af­fects the brain in a way that dam­ages the pre­frontal cor­tex, which is the area of rea­son, logic and judge­ment.

“The high sugar in­take ac­ti­vates ar­eas of the brain, in­clud­ing the amyg­dalae — two al­mond-shaped groups of nu­clei — which are the ad­dic­tion cen­tres. A re­cent study, pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion jour­nal Cir­cu­la­tion, showed how added sugar in­creased the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases in chil­dren. Some of this data in­di­cated that sugar had a di­rect in­flu­ence on caus­ing long-term car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases,” says Ruder.

“So, when we are see­ing adults in their 40s with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, it means the in­for­ma­tion that cre­ated a high risk of heart dis­ease at 40 was al­ready planted when they were chil­dren.”

High sugar con­sump­tion has been proven to cause obe­sity and in­crease the risk of life­style dis­eases.

The lat­est re­search shows that sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages – soft drinks, fruit juices and en­ergy drinks — are a sig­nif­i­cant source of added sugar and can harm chil­dren.

A lo­cal study, con­ducted in 2007, found that sug­ary bev­er­ages were the third most com­monly con­sumed drinks among ur­ban chil­dren be­tween the ages of two and 14. It also showed that in­fants aged be­tween four and 24 months liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas con­sumed sug­ary drinks two or three times a week.

Pro­fes­sor Karen Hof­man of the Wits School of Pub­lic Health de­scribes this as a toxic sit­u­a­tion, say­ing sug­ary drinks con­trib­ute to weight gain be­cause the body does not com­pen­sate for high-calo­rie drinks by re­duc­ing calo­rie in­take later in the day, as it does with solid food. — News24

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.