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Childhood obesity has been a persistent problem in Singapore for the last 2 decades. In 2010, the prevalence of overweight or severely overweight in Singapore was 12.0% among primary school students and 10.5% among secondary school students1. In Asians, overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 23 kg/m2 and obesity is defined as a BMI ≥ 27.5 kg/m2. Comparing children of the same age and gender, a child is overweight when his or her BMI is between the 85th and 95thcentile and obesity is present when the BMI is ≥ 95th centile.
The BMI is calculated using the formula below:BMI = weight (kg) ÷ [height (m)]2
1HPB-MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines 1/2016
Obesity is caused by a combination of excessive calorie intake, lack of exercise and genetic factors. In some children, obesity is caused by certain diseases and medications.
Obesity can lead to immediate and long-term problems. Immediate problems include Diabetes Mellitus, high blood pressure, hyperlipidaemia, fatty liver, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), irregular menses, knee and ankle problems, depression and low self-esteem. In the clinic, the doctor will screen for such problems through questions, physical examination and blood tests.
Long-term problems include a higher risk of obesity as an adult and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and several types of cancer.
Losing weight is hard work and requires a combination of healthy eating and exercise. As such, motivating the child or adolescent is important to ensure a higher success rate. The support from family, friends, school and healthcare workers is also very important.
Our multidisciplinary weight management team consists of a paediatrician, dietitian, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and nurse clinician. Our team provides a one-stop weight management clinic where your child can have access to our full range of services. The main care coordinator is our paediatrician specialising in endocrinology who also monitors and treats complications of obesity. The dietitian customises a healthy diet for each child based on food preferences. The role of the occupational therapist is to motivate the child and provide valuable parenting strategies to reinforce the child's healthy living. The physiotherapist advises on the exercise regimen and encourages the child to maintain the exercise programme. Together with your child and family, we will combat obesity and its complications and improve your child's quality of life as a team.
Your child or adolescent may face pressure to lose weight from the people around them due to obesity.
Low self-esteem, bullying and depression may affect your child's motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle. Parents play an important role, including being encouraging, non-judgemental and a good role model in leading a healthy lifestyle. Constant nagging may backfire, causing the child to be more resistant to change.
Clinical research is vital to the advancement of medical care. Our doctors are passionate about contributing to the future of child health and medicine not only through clinical practice but also research.