Why Worry About Childhood Obesity?

While it may be painful to consider a child’s weight as a medical condition, parents have to take the consequences of childhood obesity seriously. Doctors have linked serious health complications and emotional complications to childhood obesity problems. Learn to identify the effects of childhood obesity now, as you work to help your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle.

Health Risks Associated with Child Obesity

  • Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects the way a child’s body metabolizes sugar in the form of glucose. This chronic condition is caused in part by a poor diet. The good news is it can be reversed by adopting a healthier lifestyle, including better nutrition and exercise.
  • Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and excess abdominal fat. These conditions put children at risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
  • High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure. Poor diet can directly affect a child’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High cholesterol and high blood pressure contribute to buildup of plaque in the arteries. If arteries begin to narrow and harden, this can lead to heart attack or stroke later in life.
  • Asthma and Breathing Problems. Extra body weight can interfere with the health and development of your child’s lungs, increasing the risk of asthma and other breathing problems.
  • Sleep Disorders. Sleep apnea, a condition that causes snoring and abnormal breathing during sleep, can be one of the effects of child obesity. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to behavioral issues, poor attention span, and excessive sleepiness during the day.
  • Early Puberty or Menstruation. Obesity can cause a child to develop hormone imbalances. In some children, a hormone imbalance may cause puberty to begin earlier than expected. This may cause discomfort and social problems for a younger child.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies. Fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D, can make their way into fat cells leading to significant deficiencies. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and bone pain.
  • Liver and Gall Bladder problems. Children who are obese are up to five times more likely to suffer a gallbladder attack. Extra belly fat can also lead to fatty liver disease which can eventually progress to liver failure.

Social and Emotional Complications Associated with Child Obesity

  • Low Self Esteem and Bullying. Obese children are often teased and bullied by peers. This type of negative interaction may lead to issues with self-esteem and an increased risk of depression.
  • Behavior and Learning Problems. Children suffering from obesity often experience anxiety and poor social skills. These children may act out and engage in disruptive behaviors, or may withdraw from peers. Stress and anxiety interfere with learning, which can start a vicious cycle of worry over peer interactions and declining academic performance.
  • Depression. Low self-esteem and poor body image can cause children to develop overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. Children who feel that their lives will not improve may become depressed, losing interest in life’s day-to-day activities. Childhood depression is a potentially dangerous condition that often requires treatment supervised by the child’s doctor.

Be vigilant when it comes to identifying the risk factors associated with childhood obesity. Share your concerns with your child’s caretakers and teachers to develop a strong support system as you work to eliminate your child’s health risks.