Childhood obesity - how big is the challenge?
Obesity is not only a problem of individuals, but conveys considerable global, economical, and societal threats and challenges. Obesity should be treated as a disease as declared by WHO in 1948, by the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association in 2013, by the Canadian Medical Association in 2015, and as recommended by the EASO Childhood Obesity Task Force in 2015.
This implies that obese children and youths must be offered a professional medical health care service in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath and thus the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UNICEF: ‘State Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health”.
The prevalence of obesity has increased tremendously over the past decades. WHO currently estimates that 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight and 600 million are obese. Also for children, the numbers are alarmingly high, with more than 42 million children under the age of 5 years being overweight.
Danish children and adolescents with overweight and obesity included in treatment with an average age of 12 years are heavily burdened; 51% exhibit prehypertension or overt hypertension, 31% exhibit hepatic steatosis, 27% exhibit dyslipidemia, 68% exhibit muscular steatosis, 50% exhibit sleep apnoea and 14% exhibit pre-diabetes.
Obesity in childhood tracks into adult life and increases the risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and more than 20 forms of cancers in adulthood. Obesity has been calculated to account for 9% of all morbidity and mortality for cancers, 35% of all cardiovascular disease and 85% of all type 2 diabetes. The obesity epidemic is thus expected to result in a decrease in life expectancy and is regarded as one of the greatest challenges of health in the 21st century.
The Children’s Obesity Clinic
Since 2008, The Children’s Obesity Clinic – initiated and developed by Paediatrician, PhD, Associate Professor, Consultant Jens-Christian Holm – has included more than 4200 children with obesity into ‘the Children’s Obesity Clinic Treatment which is a multidisciplinary program based on current guidelines and standards for best-practice and authoritative recommendations. We strive constantly to develop and refine our treatment in order to optimize treatment results in regards to obesity and its related complications.
The Holbæk obesity treatment method is a chronic care, multidisciplinary, best-practice, outpatient, childhood obesity treatment protocol involving health care professionals, including paediatricians, dieticians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, secretaries, and research technicians.
At the first visit, the child and family are introduced to the treatment protocol, which is a family-centred approach involving behaviour-modifying techniques, where the child and family receive an individually tailored and thorough plan of lifestyle advices. This individually tailored plan is presented to each child and family comprising 10-25 treatment plan points concerning sources and amounts of nutrition, sugar and fat intake, level and type of physical activity and inactivity, psychosocial functions, eating behaviours, hygiene, allowances, and sleep patterns. To date, more than 4200 children or adolescents and their families have started treatment