Underlying medical problems behind a fifth of childhood obesity cases: study
In a fifth of childhood obesity cases in the Netherlands, an underlying medical problem is the cause instead of an unhealthy lifestyle, according to a study by Erasmus MC and Amsterdam UMC among around 300 obese children and teenagers between the ages of 0 and 18 years, AD reports.
About 18 thousand children and teenagers in the Netherlands are obese. The researchers found that an underlying medical cause was behind the obesity in 19 percent of the cases. This was most often in children who were already obese before kindergarten.
The underlying medical problems involved several rare hereditary disorders. For example, a mistake in the DNA that prevents the brain area that regulates appetite and digestion from working properly. Medication, or previous brain damage were also often the cause.
"We spoke to parents and children who had tried everything to lose weight. They were desperate. This diagnosis, which establishes that it is a mistake in the genes, causes tremendous relief. But also understanding from those around them," researcher Ozair Abawi, who conducted this study with Lotte Kleinendorst, said to the newspaper.
At 19 percent, the proportion of childhood obesity cases with an underlying medical cause is 5 percent higher than previously described in medical literature. According to the researchers, this is because their study was much more extensive. Participants were subjected to DNA tests, hormone measurements, fitness tests at the pediatric physiotherapist, and digestion measurements by a pediatric dietitian.