CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND HOMEOPATHY
Dr. Deepak Sharma
BHMS, MD, Ph.D. (Scholar)
Homeopathic Physician and Educator
Founder – Orbit Clinics
Childhood obesity represents a formidable health predicament characterized by a child’s weight considerably exceeding the recommended parameters for their age and height. This intricate medical condition arises from a confluence of factors, encompassing genetic predispositions, environmental influences, and lifestyle choices.
The World Health Organization (WHO) delineates childhood obesity as a body mass index (BMI) surpassing the 95th percentile for children of identical age and sex. BMI is derived by dividing weight (in kilograms) by the square of height (in meters).
The primary cause of childhood obesity stems from an incongruity between energy intake via nutrition and energy expenditure through physical exertion. This disequilibrium may originate from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle determinants. Notable causes of childhood obesity encompass:
- Genetics: Children with a familial predisposition to obesity are more susceptible. Genetic factors may influence a child’s metabolism, hormonal regulation, and appetite.
- Environment: A child’s surroundings can also contribute to obesity, with factors such as limited access to nutritious foods, sedentary lifestyles, and neighborhoods lacking safe recreational spaces heightening the risk.
- Lifestyle choices: Children consuming calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages and engaging in minimal physical activity face an elevated risk of obesity.
Various risk factors can augment a child’s likelihood of developing obesity, including:
- Family history of obesity: Children with obese parents or siblings exhibit a heightened risk.
- Physical inactivity: Sedentary children face an increased likelihood of obesity.
- Unhealthy diet: A diet replete with calories, sugar, and fat may contribute to obesity.
- Psychological factors: Children grappling with stress, anxiety, or depression are more prone to unhealthy eating habits and sedentary behaviors.
Obesity is a multifaceted medical condition with grave health implications. Health conditions associated with childhood obesity include:
- Type 2 diabetes: Obesity heightens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, where the body cannot effectively utilize insulin.
- High blood pressure: Obesity may induce high blood pressure, elevating the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep apnea: Obese children are more susceptible to sleep apnea, characterized by intermittent cessation and resumption of breathing during sleep.
- Joint problems: Obesity may exert additional strain on joints, resulting in joint pain and other complications.
Childhood obesity symptoms are often inconspicuous. However, potential indicators of a child being overweight or obese include:
- Inadequate clothing size: Overweight or obese children may struggle to fit into clothing suitable for their age and height.
- Respiratory difficulties: Obese children may experience labored breathing during physical exertion or sleep.
- Low self-esteem: Social stigma and low self-esteem may afflict obese children due to their weight.
- Excessive hunger: Overweight children may exhibit excessive hunger or cravings for calorie-dense foods.
The WHO reports a substantial surge in childhood obesity prevalence over recent decades, with the number of overweight and obese children under five years old rising from 32 million in 1990 to 41 million in 2016. In the United States, approximately one in five children and adolescents is obese, with obesity prevalence among children aged 6-11 years more than doubling since the 1980s.
Fortunately, childhood obesity is primarily preventable. Measures to mitigate childhood obesity include:
- Encourage a healthy diet: Children require a balanced diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Parents should curtail their child’s intake of high-calorie foods and beverages, and prioritize portion control.
- Promote regular physical activity: Children should engage in at least one hour of physical activity daily. Encouraging outdoor play, sports, and active hobbies can foster a more active lifestyle.
- Establish consistent sleep patterns: A regular sleep schedule and adequate sleep duration are vital for maintaining a healthy weight. Children should avoid screen time close to bedtime and establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- Create a supportive environment: Parents and caregivers should foster a nurturing and non-judgmental atmosphere, promoting healthy habits and self-esteem. Children are more likely to adopt healthy behaviors when they observe them in their family members.
- Collaborate with schools and communities: Schools and communities can play a crucial role in promoting healthy eating and physical activity by providing nutritious meals, creating safe recreational spaces, and implementing health education programs.
Childhood obesity management necessitates a multi-pronged approach. Treatment options include:
Medical intervention: A healthcare professional can evaluate the child’s health and guide the family towards a tailored weight management plan.
Behavior modification: Children may benefit from counseling or structured programs aimed at instilling healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity.
Family support: Parents and siblings should actively participate in the child’s weight management journey by adopting healthier lifestyle habits and providing emotional support.
In severe cases, pharmacological or surgical interventions may be considered. However, these measures are generally reserved for adolescents who have not achieved success with lifestyle modifications and face serious health complications due to obesity.
While there are no specific homeopathic remedies for childhood obesity, homeopathy focuses on treating the underlying causes of the condition, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and emotional factors.
Some homeopathic remedies that may be useful in treating childhood obesity include:
- Calcarea Carbonica: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to a sluggish metabolism, and who experience digestive problems such as constipation.
- Natrum Mur: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who have a tendency to retain water, and who are overweight due to hormonal imbalances.
- Lycopodium: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who have a tendency to overeat, and who experience bloating and digestive discomfort.
- Phytolacca: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who have a tendency to gain weight due to a slow metabolism, and who experience cravings for sweets and fatty foods.
- Nux Vomica: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to overindulgence in food and drink, and who experience digestive problems such as acid reflux and constipation.
- Antimonium Crudum: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to emotional eating, and who experience digestive problems such as bloating and indigestion.
- Pulsatilla: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to hormonal imbalances, and who experience fluid retention and mood swings.
- Sepia: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to hormonal imbalances related to menopause, and who experience fatigue and depression.
- Graphites: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to a slow metabolism, and who experience skin problems such as eczema and dryness.
- Thuja: This remedy is often recommended for individuals who are overweight due to thyroid problems, and who experience fatigue and constipation.
Exercises and Yoga:
Regular physical activity is crucial for managing weight and improving overall health. In addition to traditional exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming, yoga can also be a great way to get children moving and improve their fitness levels. Here are 10 yoga poses that can be beneficial for children who are struggling with obesity:
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Lift your chest and draw your shoulders down and back. Take deep breaths and focus on grounding through your feet.
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Begin on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Lift your hips up and back, straightening your arms and legs. Relax your head and neck and hold for several breaths.
- Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana): Step your left foot back and turn it out at a 45-degree angle. Bend your right knee and extend your arms up overhead. Hold for several breaths, then switch sides.
- Tree Pose (Vrikshasana): Stand with your feet hip-width apart and shift your weight to your left foot. Bring your right foot to your inner left thigh and press your hands together in front of your chest. Hold for several breaths, then switch sides.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, pressing your feet and shoulders into the ground. Hold for several breaths, then release.
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lower your hips as if you are sitting in a chair. Raise your arms up overhead and hold for several breaths.
- Child’s Pose (Balasana): Begin on your hands and knees and lower your hips back towards your heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the ground. Take deep breaths and hold for several breaths.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Lie on your stomach with your hands by your shoulders. Lift your chest up off the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Hold for several breaths, then release.
- Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana): Begin on your hands and knees and alternate between rounding your spine up towards the ceiling (cat) and arching your back down towards the ground (cow). Repeat several times.
- Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana): Lie on your back and bring your knees towards your chest. Grab onto the outsides of your feet and gently pull your knees towards your armpits. Hold for several breaths.
These yoga poses can help children improve their balance, flexibility, and strength, while also promoting relaxation and stress relief. However, it is important to note that regular physical activity and a healthy diet are both essential for managing childhood obesity.