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Three things that endanger children's growth

Updated: Feb 22, 2022 Print
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Obesity, myopia and scoliosis are three hidden dangers in the health of children and adolescents in China.

Guo Xin, director of the Office of School Health of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shares tips with parents on how to prevent and control these three common conditions.

Childhood obesity

1. Is it true that "Childhood obesity is innate"?

Guo: Obesity is a chronic metabolic disease caused by many factors. When energy intake exceeds consumption, it leads to excessive fat accumulation in the body, which is harmful to health.

The causes of childhood obesity are complex, including genetic factors and environmental ones. Between 40 percent and 70 percent of obesity is caused by genetic factors. However, overweight childhood conditions and obesity have shown a rapid upward trend in recent years, which is mainly caused by environmental factors.

Environmental factors refers to children's behaviors including daily meals, physical activities and lifestyles. Not getting enough physical activity, having beverages with sugar and skipping breakfast can lead to obesity.

2. Will children with obesity have health issues in adulthood?

Guo: If childhood obesity is not controlled in time, it will not only affect the health of children, but also affect health in their adulthood.

Childhood obesity can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases in adulthood, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The impact of obesity on children's health can be divided into four aspects:

1) growth and development

2) brain and intellectual development

3) sports ability

4) psychology

Obesity will not only affect children's health, but also harm family health and social development.

3.How can we prevent childhood obesity?

Guo: Eat healthy foods and stay physically active.FoodA healthy diet follows the "Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents" (2016).

The recommended diet structure is: carbohydrate accounts for 50 percent to 60 percent, fat accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent, and protein accounts for 15 percent to 25 percent.

1) Have a good and regular breakfast. The energy provided by breakfast should account for 25 percent to 30 percent of the energy of the whole day, lunch for 30 percent to 40 percent and dinner for 30 percent to 35 percent.

2) Pay attention to the variety of food. It's best for children to eat 12 kinds of food a day and 25 kinds a week.

3) Ensure consumption of cereal.

4) Create a relaxed and pleasant dining atmosphere, focus on eating, and don't eat while watching a cellphone or TV.

5) Have an appropriate portion of snacks; snacks cannot replace the three proper meals. It is best to eat snacks between meals.


1) Children should have at least one hour of medium and high-intensity physical activity every day.

2) Children should not use electronic products for more than two hours a day. Get up and move about for 10 minutes for every hour you sit.

3) Cultivate children's interest in sports and make them fall in love with one or two favorites.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

4. What is the difference between real myopia and pseudo-myopia?

Guo: In fact, there is no such a medical term as pseudo-myopia. The so-called pseudo-myopia actually shows the degree of myopia when the eyeball is not adjusted and relaxed. It is not real myopia. If you still have myopia after eyedrops of cycloplegic drugs, it is real.

eenagers' eyeballs are in the period of development. Pseudo-myopia is more like the early stage of real myopia. If it is not alleviated in time, it may eventually cause the growth of ocular axis and become real myopia.

5. Can parents' myopia really be inherited by children?

Guo: Research shows that myopia has a certain heritability, but it also depends. If one or both parents have high myopia (greater than -6.00 diopters), the probability of children suffering from myopia will be increased. However, moderate and low myopia (lower than -6.00 diopters) is more affected by environmental factors such as daily lifestyles, reading habits, outdoor activity time and so on.

Parents should judge whether their children are at high risk, medium risk or low risk of myopia according to their own and their spouses' eye conditions, and pay close attention to their children's vision.

6. Can myopia therapeutic instrument really cure myopia?

Guo: We must make it clear that once myopia occurs, it cannot be reversed.

Up to now, there is no cure for myopia in medicine. Parents should not believe in commercials that boast of "curing myopia". Unscientific treatment may lead to even more serious consequences such as eye infection.

For myopia, we can only delay the progress through scientific prevention and control. Parents should start with "maintaining good eye behavior, building a visual friendly environment and increasing daytime outdoor activities" to delay the development of children's myopia and avoid it becoming high myopia.At present, low concentration atropine or corneal shaping lenses (OK lens) are often used in clinics to slow down the progress of myopia, but it is recommended to go to formal medical institutions and follow the doctor's instructions.


7. What is scoliosis in children?

Guo: The dorsal view of the normal human spine is straight from the midpoint of the occipital bone (occipital eminence) to the midline of the sacrum.

If a certain section of the spine of children deviates from the midline of the body, making the spine protrude in an arc or "S" shape, and the X-ray confirms that the Cobb angle (on an X-ray film of the whole spine, select the most inclined vertebral bodies at both ends, i.e. the upper and lower vertebral bodies, and make a parallel line along the upper and lower endplates -- the Cobb angle is the angle formed by these two lines) is greater than 10 degrees, it is defined as scoliosis in children and adolescents.

8. At what age are children most prone to scoliosis?

Guo: Scoliosis is often found among adolescents aged from 10 to 16 years, with rapid development in puberty. Its incidence rate among females is higher than that of males, and the lateral bending degree among females is also heavier than that of males.

Around the age of 16 or 17, children's height development comes to an end. Lack of exercise, insufficient muscle strength on both sides of the normal physiological bending of the fixed spine, coupled with incorrect sitting and standing postures, can easily cause scoliosis.

9. What bad habits can cause scoliosis?

Guo: Bad habits causing scoliosis can be divided into three categories:

1) Wrong postures: long-term incorrect standing, walking, sitting and writing postures make children's spines unable to get a good rest, which can easily cause muscle fatigue and damage in the waist and back, and therefore lead to them being unable to maintain correct reading and writing postures for a sustained period of time, thus forming a vicious cycle.

Long-term unilateral weight bearing and the habit of carrying unilateral shoulder bags also increase the risk of scoliosis.

2) Lack of physical exercise: scoliosis is related to one's exercise level in daily life. The more physical activity, the lower the risk of scoliosis.

3)Dietary bias: children and adolescents need to take in a large amount of calcium for bone development. If anorexia or other factors lead to insufficient calcium intake, or vitamin D deficiency due to diet and sunshine, the risk of scoliosis can be increased.

10. What can parents do to detect scoliosis in their children as early as possible?

Guo: For young parents, they can test by themselves to see whether their children's back is symmetrical by using the method of "four horizontal and one vertical".

"Four horizontal" refers to whether the two shoulders are equal in height, whether the lower corners of the two shoulder blades are equal in height, whether the two lumbar fossa are symmetrical, and whether the height of the iliac crest on both sides of the pelvis is consistent.

"One vertical" is to see whether the child's spinous process line is inclined or deviates from the median line.

In addition to observing the children's appearance, parents can also ask them to perform the Adam's forward bend test. During the test, the child keeps his/her heels close together and his/her legs straight, and bend forward 90 degrees, with his/her hands dangling and perpendicular to the ground. If there is spinal deformation, there will be high asymmetry on both sides, which is called "razor back deformity" in medicine.

Through physical examination, you can make a preliminary judgment by yourself, but you need to go to the doctor for the final diagnosis. Parents must pay attention to their children's spinal health and do regular self-examination.

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