Obesity was declared a disease a decade ago and is the most common chronic disease of childhood. According to data from the World Health Organization, it is the fourth cause of death in modern man. It puts children at risk due to health problems that can affect their health now and in the future, according to the guest of Radio Belgrade 1’s morning program, pediatrician prof. Dr. Nedeljko Radlović, gastroenterologist and nutritionist at the University Children’s Clinic in Tiršova.
“As a result of obesity, you have a whole series of disorders in the body, such as arteriosclerosis, then diabetes.” It has also been proven that obesity is a factor in the occurrence of some malignant diseases. Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions today. In the world, 10 to 15 percent of people are overweight. In the USA and some Arab countries, that number is even higher, and even half of the child population suffers from obesity,” says Dr. Radlović.
Chigota Special Hospital
The most successful approach to the treatment and prevention of obesity involves changing the way of life, correcting the diet and increasing physical activity. This is exactly the approach they have at the Čigota Special Hospital, where children from our country have been coming for treatment through the Health Insurance Fund for the last 15 years. So far, nine thousand patients between the ages of 12 and 18 have passed through that institution, says Snežana Lešović, pediatrician-endocrinologist, head of the Department for Childhood Obesity in Čigota.
“The program is the promotion of healthy lifestyles, education about proper nutrition and physical activity, as prevention, but also treatment of obesity.” An entire multidisciplinary team works with the children – there is a pediatrician, an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, a specialist in physical medicine, a psychologist and an animator. A child-friendly program as well as nutrition give good results. They are not only related to weight loss, but to teach children how to fight this serious problem, to change bad habits. In just three weeks, which is the duration of this program, the children improve their fitness, feel better and have more self-confidence,” Dr. Lešović points out.
Don’t delay addressing your child’s excessive obesity
A child does not become chubby overnight, but develops gradually. In our country, every third child is overweight. The forecasts for the future are not great either. It is estimated that by 2030, 18 percent of children under the age of 19 will have a problem with obesity, which is one of the highest percentages in Europe. The problem with excessive body mass is solved during childhood, says Dr. Lešović.
“It is necessary to recognize a child’s nutritional disorder as early as possible, whether it is obesity or malnutrition. Solving this problem should not be delayed. One of the prejudices is that everything will be solved during puberty. It won’t, that’s why it’s important that when you go to your chosen pediatrician, you also talk to him about your child’s weight. By doing so, you prevent further problems.”
It has been proven that young people who are overweight during the reproductive period are two to three times more likely to have overweight children. Numerous studies confirm that obesity in a child can be predicted even before it is born, explains Professor Nedeljko Radlović.
“The second period that is important for the prevention of obesity is the prenatal period, more precisely the first thousand days, which includes the period of conception and the first two years of a child’s life. This is when the so-called early metabolic programming develops, and that is why it is important that pregnant women are under medical supervision. If the mother had gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gained too much weight during pregnancy, it will be written into the genome and such a child will surely develop a tendency towards obesity later on,” Doctor Radlović told Radio Belgrade.
Tips for parents
Doctors say that children are the mirror of their parents. Much of what we eat is fast and unhealthy. Daily schedules are so busy that there is little time left for healthy meals and exercise. In addition, modern life is sedentary. However, some things must be avoided, says Dr. Radlović.
“Chocolate should not be given to children at all.” Eliminate mayonnaise and various popular spreads from your diet. If the child eats beans, sarma, stuffed peppers or peas, then reduce bread to a minimum. The worst thing you can do to your child is to allow them snacks while sitting at the computer or watching TV. Also, children should spend at least an hour every day outside, moving, running, doing exercises. “It is the family that sets the rules of behavior for children,” advises the doctor.
Obesity in both children and adults is difficult to treat and very often returns. Children through the Health Insurance Fund can visit the Chigota Special Hospital twice, but at different ages.
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