Childhood obesity in Nigeria: causes and suggestions for control
Childhood obesity is fast becoming a global public health concern, not only because of increased Body Mass Index (BMI) but majorly due to attendant health consequences. While it is expected that childhood obesity affects only developed, affluent countries, the current trend shows a gradually shift in dimension towards low income, developing countries like Nigeria. Although, causes of obesity differ intrinsically among nations, the health outcomes appear to be similar, which include, renal, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory and neurological disorders, as well as psychological and emotional problems. Identified causes in Nigeria include among others, shift in life style and behaviour, medication, cultural beliefs, taboos, food habits and choices as well as genetic make up of individuals. Suggested approaches towards control would include timely intervention, health education, life style modification, shift in bogus beliefs and taboos, as well as change in food habit and food preferences. The role of parents and the media in the control of childhood obesity will also be highlighted.
Keywords: Body Mass Index, obesity; food preferences; life style; adiposity