Indicators of Childhood Obesity: Actions for Parents to Take

Obesity is not just an adult health problem. It can also occur in kids and needs effective management. But first, know all about the signs of childhood obesity.

Signs Of Childhood Obesity: What Parents Can Do
Signs Of Childhood Obesity: What Parents Can Do

Over the years, obesity has emerged as a significant global health issue, impacting more than 1 billion individuals worldwide, including 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Annually, over 4 million people across the globe lose their lives due to complications related to excess weight, according to data from the global health organization.

For parents, this statistical information may feel daunting. However, our intention is not to cause alarm but to emphasize the potential complexities associated with obesity. Children, in particular, are at heightened risk and require proper guidance and support. To fulfill this role, parents must educate themselves about the challenges presented by obesity. In a discussion with the Healthonlyforyou team, Dr. Esha Gupta, Consultant Paediatrician and Consultant Paediatric Intensivist at Motherhood Hospitals in Bengaluru, HRBR Layout, addressed common queries regarding childhood obesity.

How to Determine if Your Child is Obese or Overweight

How to Determine if Your Child is Obese or Overweight?


Identifying obesity in children is essential for prompt intervention and the mitigation of associated health risks, according to Dr. Gupta. Here are the key indicators parents should monitor in their children:

1. Body Mass Index (BMI): Utilize BMI charts designed for children as a tool to determine if a child falls within a healthy weight range. The CDC defines overweight as a BMI ranging from the 85th to less than the 95th percentile, while obesity is characterized by a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and adolescents of the same age and sex.

2. Breathing difficulties: Obesity in children can lead to respiratory issues, such as asthma, which may manifest as difficulty breathing.

3. Body shape changes: Any noticeable alterations in the child’s body shape could signal obesity, with excess fat typically accumulating around the abdomen, as noted by Dr. Gupta.

4. Joint pain: While joint pain at a young age is uncommon, excess weight or obesity can exert strain on the joints, potentially leading to discomfort or pain.

Factors Contributing to Childhood Obesity

Factors Contributing to Childhood Obesity

Numerous factors can contribute to weight gain and obesity in children.

Dr. Gupta highlighted, “Poor dietary choices and excessive consumption of fast food, characterized by its high-calorie and low-nutrient content, can play a significant role.”

Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle, marked by extended periods of screen time and inadequate physical activity, can also be a contributing factor to childhood obesity, emphasized the doctor.

Research has indicated that genetic predisposition also plays a crucial role in determining the risk of obesity.

Strategies to Minimize the Risk of Obesity in Children

Strategies to Minimize the Risk of Obesity in Children

If left unmanaged and unaddressed, childhood obesity can lead to various long-term complications, as noted by Dr. Gupta.

These complications encompass an elevated risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart diseases, fatty liver, and certain cancers like colon and breast cancer.

Therefore, it’s imperative for parents to take proactive measures, including:

1. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule for children.
2. Adopting a healthy dietary regimen as a family, incorporating a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat foods.
3. Assisting children in monitoring their portion sizes.
4. Encouraging increased physical activity; Dr. Gupta recommends that children engage in at least 60 minutes of medium- to high-intensity physical activity daily, such as aerobic exercises, dancing, or jumping rope.
5. Participating in family activities like walks, dancing, biking, or outdoor games together.
6. Limiting screen time to reduce sedentary behavior.


If you observe any indications of obesity in your children, such as breathing difficulties, joint pain, or changes in body shape, it’s crucial to take appropriate action. Assist your child in adopting a healthy eating routine, encourage them to engage in more physical activity, and support them in maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Should you have any further concerns or if your child begins to exhibit other chronic conditions linked to obesity, seek guidance from your doctor to determine the best course of action moving forward.