Obesity in children: more and more overweight children

VERONA – Obesity among children and adolescents has a major impact on the long-term disease status and mortality of the youngest around the world. In most cases, this condition continues from adolescence to adulthood and is associated with hypertension, impaired glucose metabolism and social distress.

In Italy – explains Claudio MaffeisProfessor of General and Specialist Pediatrics, Director of Pediatrics B and of the Specialized Regional Center for Pediatric Diabetes in Aoui, Verona – at age ten, a third of children have weight problems: 20% are overweight and 10% suffer from obesity. It is necessary that the treatment is timely and adequate because in at least one in two cases, obesity persists in adolescents. Furthermore, obesity already in the youngest can be accompanied by metabolic complications, such as arterial hypertension, elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, fatty liver, glucose intolerance and diabetes, and non-metabolic, including mental problems such as low self-esteem, depression. , self-isolation, as well as social stigma and bullying, which reduces health and quality of life. For too long, the person with obesity has been described as lazy and greedy. On the contrary, consistent scientific evidence shows it it is a real disease, characterized by a genetic predisposition that is usually associated with several genes, which together work by helping to change the hunger / satiety regulation system. The wide availability of food and a sedentary lifestyle act as a trigger. Some genes are even directly responsible for some forms of severe obesity, and treatment is now available for some of them. Diagnosis is possible with specific tests performed in Pediatrics B at Donna Bambino Hospital in Verona “.

Treating obesity is not easy, it involves long-term action on all aspects of the child’s life

Treating obesity is not easy, it involves long-term action on all aspects of the child’s and young person’s life, but also for the parents: nutrition, physical activity, lifestyle. To improve the effectiveness of treatment, a greater direct involvement of those caring for the child and young person is crucial, starting with parents, family members, teachers, sports instructors, the pediatrician or the treating physician, and the patient. This is confirmed by the results of the international study “Action teens”, conducted in ten countries on five continents, with the participation of Claudio Maffeis in the Scientific Committee for the project representing Italy.

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Every fourth teenager is not aware that they are overweight

“Action teens – explains Maffeis – involved about 13 thousand people, including over 5 thousand children and adolescents with obesity, 5,400 parents and caregivers and more than 2 thousand health workers, with the aim of identifying perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and barriers to obesity treatment and understanding of how these factors affect its handling.The picture that emerged is extremely interesting and in part surprising. every fourth teenager is not aware that they are overweight And in one in three cases, they are unable to talk about their weight directly with their parents or with the pediatrician / doctor treating them. In two-thirds of cases, they believe that weight loss is their sole responsibility. He often turns to social media for help. Every third parent struggles to recognize their child’s obesity, and when the caregiver is contacted, the young person in 80% of cases already has at least one complication of obesity. A parent in three places has full responsibility for the weight loss of young people, and underestimates the importance of their role in this regard. “

The study also shows that more than 80% of the interviewed doctors have reported the need to receive more specific training on obesity in children and adolescents in order to provide more effective help.

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