Adolescent obesity: Don’t take it lightly

Extra fat, beyond infancy, can quickly turn to obesity. Don't dismiss it for baby fat or encourage it by saying 'cho chweet'

kid having a pastry from the fridgeEveryone loves plump babies. They look so cute. But if they don’t shed all the extra layers by adolescence, not only does it not look cute, but it can also lead to serious health complications. Childhood obesity leads to adolescent obesity, which in turn paves the way to adult obesity, a growing pandemic.

Unfortunately, childhood obesity goes undetected in both genders. In the case of adolescent boys, it goes unnoticed mostly because of pampering mothers. To find out if your child is a ‘healthy’ child or an obese one, check if his BMI [body mass index] is over 25. If it is, you need to take steps immediate steps to lose the extra.

What obesity brings along

Obesity leads to lethargy, acne [pimples], seborrhic dermatitis [dandruff], acanthosis nigricans [black decolourisation of neck, armpit, underarm, and groin folds], and stretch marks.

Other psychological problems of being obese are:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Reduced physical capabilities, again leading to obesity
  • Social ridicule
  • Unfulfilled dressing desires
  • Inhibition to communicate freely with opposite gender.

Other serious disorders to follow may be:

  • Dyslipidemia [a disorder of lipoprotein metabolism, including lipoprotein overproduction or deficiency] leading to cardiac problems
  • Diabetes with impending disabilities
  • Hormonal imbalances.

What you can do

First of all, understand the level of the problem and how much time your child will need to recover. Then systematically plan his diet and exercise schedules without disturbing his daily routine activities. First, set goals for a week, then for a month and then extend the goal to achieving the desired target.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Ensure that your child consumes 500Kcal less than the daily dietary requirement for his age. Get him to exercise for at least one hour, daily—aerobics, walking, jogging swimming and running are options she can choose from. Usually jogging, swimming and running help burn calories faster.
  • Increase his daily intake of vegetables and fruits.
  • Serve him protein-rich foods like egg whites and dal on a regular basis.
  • Replace rice from his diet with wheat products and fibre-rich foods. This will slow down the glucose release and maintain satiety for a long time.
  • Keep the diet as simple as possible, else he won’t stick to it for long.
  • Be extremely supportive and patient with him. Your attitude towards your child’s weight loss programme will make a huge difference to him.
  • Don’t let him lose hope or get dejected, if the target is eluding your child. Persistence and continuous motivation is the key here.

How to maintain ideal weight

As commonly believed, losing the extra pounds is not as difficult as maintaining proper weight. You need to:

  • Monitor your child’s weight, at least once a week.
  • Take immediate action if his weight breaches normalcy. Encourage him to work harder to return to desired weight as quickly as possible.
  • Make a list of all factors, which will deter him from achieving the goal. Discuss it with him and chalk out plans to tackle each of the obstacles.

Helping your child

Maintaining the ideal weight will shield your child from getting health complications like dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, strokes, polycystic ovary syndrome [PCOS], coronary artery diseases and arthritis.

Seeing your little children grow into healthy adults and lead happier lives is what every parent desires. And you as a parent can play a very important role in that by helping them develop good food habits and making them aware of the importance of maintaining an ideal weight.

More help

These dos and don’ts will further help you in your fight against the extra kilos.


  • Always keep a measuring tape and weighing scale handy.
  • Maintain a daily record of your child’s weight loss programme.
  • Ensure that he exercises daily.
  • Shrink his food portion gradually [in case you think your child has been overeating].
  • Inform his progress to his best friends. Their praises will motivate him further.
  • Reward your child every time he loses a few pounds [not by overeating of course]. Get him something he likes—a toy or a game or a dress of his choice.


  • Never let your child get disheartened by failure. The journey may seem difficult, but it is definitely not impossible.
  • See to it that he does not gain more than 1kg on a sabbatical.
  • Keep him from attending parties till he reaches his target weight for the set period.
  • Never let your child binge, even on low-calorie foods.
K Ganapriya
Dr K Ganapriya is the Medical Director of the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kumaran Specialities Hospital, Chennai. Her special interests are adolescent counselling and obesity management.


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