Effects of Childhood Obesity
Effects of Childhood Obesity
The effects of childhood obesity is becoming a major issue in today’s society. The number of children who are now obese is continually on the rise. In fact, the number of instances of childhood obesity has more than tripled within the past thirty years. Statistics show that between sixteen and thirty-three percent of our children and adolescents today are obese. What causes childhood obesity? How does it affect our children physically, mentally and long-term? Is there any way for this condition to be treated? This article will discuss all of these issues in detail. Knowledge is power. The more we know about childhood obesity, the better we will be able to address it.
What is obesity and what are its causes? Obesity does not refer to just having a few extra pounds. It is when the additional weight is excessive that obesity comes into play. A person is deemed obese when that additional weight measures ten percent extra then what is normal for his/her height and weight. In children, obesity commonly begins to rear its ugly head between the ages of five and six. While genetics can be a factor in causing obesity, other environmental factors can be to blame as well. If a child has poor eating habits, doesn’t get any exercise, has emotional problems, such as depression, or certain medical conditions, obesity can soon result.
Health Effects of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has some health effects that can eventually become quite serious. Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions that will lead to heart disease and diabetes. Included in metabolic syndrome is high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and high cholesterol. It used to be that heart disease was predominantly seen in adults. However, with childhood obesity on the rise, the occurrence of heart disease is now being seen in children as well. If the obese child has poor eating habits, it is likely that the child will develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These will cause plaque to build up in the arteries, putting the child at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Diabetes is another physical complication that can be caused by obesity. Type 2 diabetes is when the body’s ability to metabolize sugar, or glucose, is affected. Type 2 diabetes is often caused by poor diet. The condition can often be reversed through healthy eating and exercise.
Breathing problems, such as asthma, can occur with childhood obesity as well. The extra weight of the child can actually interfere with the growth and development of the lungs. Sleep apnea involves problems with breathing correctly while sleeping. An obese child should be monitored during sleep to make sure the child isn’t having any trouble breathing. Snoring can also be caused by sleep apnea. Finally, obesity can cause a hormone imbalance in the child. This imbalance can create puberty or menstruation to begin way ahead of schedule. Psychological Effects of Childhood Obesity There are three major ways obesity can affect a child psychologically. Almost like a domino effect, when one occurs, the others are likely to follow. Due to the child’s excess weight, he/she may be prone to bullying. This bullying will often lead the child to develop very low self-esteem. If the child is always being picked on for being overweight, he/she will soon have a very distorted and low self-image, thus the second psychological effect. Between feeling badly about oneself and being subjected to the abuse of one’s peers, it is no wonder that the child would soon become depressed. This depression is the third major effect of childhood obesity.
Long Term Effects of Childhood Obesity
While the physical effects of childhood obesity often last into adulthood, these aren’t the only long term effects with which to be concerned. A child who is obese will often become an adult who is obese. Even if obesity was addressed during childhood, the effects of the extra weight may have already taken their toll on the heart. If the obesity was never reversed, heart attack and stroke can be very likely. Long term psychological effects can be just as serious. The low self-esteem the child developed isn’t going to be easily reversed. After years of feeling alone and isolated, social well-being has been greatly affected. As an adult, he/she may keep to himself/herself, or even withdraw entirely from any social setting. Childhood obesity may be on the rise today, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. By changing the lifestyles of our children, we can help shape them into healthier beings. Schools should initiate more healthy lunch choices, parents should make sure their children have some physical activity each day, and society as a whole must work to change the messages we are sending to today’s children. Television and video games may be a great part of technology, but only within moderation. Once we are able to change the way we live our lives, the rest will fall into place and the effects of childhood obesity will be just a bad memory.