Childhood Obesity has Emotional Effects

With nearly one out of every three children considered overweight or obese, childhood obesity is a serious problem. If your child is obese, you may already know that her risk for developing type-2 Diabetes increases, along with a host of other physical problems, but did you know that her emotional well-being is also jeopardized?

According to a recent study, a child who is obese is more likely to have lower self-esteem and suffer from anxiety, depression and poor body image. Teenagers who were obese as children are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drug or inhalant abuse. Obese children with low self-worth can have low expectations for their future relationships and careers. This leads to poor academic performance and an increased likelihood that they will be a victim of emotional and physical abuse.

Medical weight loss is important to helping your child get in shape. Taking off the pounds will not only reduce her risk for developing type-2 Diabetes, but also will improve her emotional well-being. It’s important that you and your child work with a medical team for successful weight loss, rather than trying out fad diets. When children repeatedly attempt to lose weight and fail to do so, this sets them up for depression, anxiety and a long-term struggle with body image.

Help your child build a healthy lifestyle by correcting poor eating habits and engaging in daily physical activity. If your home is stocked with sugary soft drinks and junk food and the typical dinner is from the drive-thru, you are setting your child up for failure. Instead, turn off the television and make meal time a family affair. Stock the pantry and fridge with healthy snacks, and encourage your child to cook dinner with you, so she learns basic nutrition principles.

Unfortunately, many schools have had to cut regular physical education classes. Help your child get active by signing her up for a youth sports team, dance lessons, or a martial arts class. These activities will not only help her burn calories, but also will help her build confidence, self-esteem and make new friends.

Many obese children are the victims of bullying, which can lead to serious emotional and academic problems. Talk to your child about bullying, and if you think your child is a victim, talk to your child’s teacher and school guidance counselor.