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Health Risks of Childhood Obesity

Posted May 13 2012 8:44am

There is a lot of concern over the growing rate of childhood obesity today.  In the United States, at least one child in every five is overweight or obese.  Genetic factors play a role but the primary causes of obesity are consumption of high-calorie foods and inadequate physical activity.

Due to the rising rate of obesity, weight-related diseases are becoming common among children and adolescents.  There are many health risks of childhood obesity, including the following.

Type 2 – Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease linked to childhood obesity.  An increasing number of overweight children and teenagers suffer from this medical condition.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three children in the United States will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

High – Children who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which can lead to other health risks such as heart disease.

Cardiovascular Disease – Overweight children often suffer from high cholesterol levels as well as high blood pressure.  These two medical conditions are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  Hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis is linked to high cholesterol levels in the blood, and is the most common cause of heart disease.  It can begin as early as childhood in overweight children.

Health Risks of Childhood Obesity

Health Risks of Childhood Obesity

Breathing Problems – Other health risks associated with child obesity are asthma and sleep apnea.  A large number of overweight children suffer from asthma.  Obese children can also have trouble sleeping as a result of obstructive sleep apnea.  This is a serious breathing disorder wherein the sufferer’s breathing is briefly interrupted during sleep.  If left untreated, apnea can lead to heart failure.

Gallstones and Liver Problems – Children and teenagers who are obese are likely to have gallstones.  Obese children are also at risk of fatty liver disease and liver problems that could lead to cirrhosis.

Metabolic Syndrome – It is estimated that 25% to 40% of overweight children will develop metabolic syndrome that could lead to diabetes and heart ailments.  Metabolic syndrome linked to weight problems include high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and abnormal lipid levels.

Future Health Risks – Child obesity carries health risks not only in the present but also in the future.  Children and teenagers who are overweight or obese are more likely to become obese adults.  Obesity in adults has a direct negative impact on their health and well-being.  In addition to increased cardiovascular risk, adults who are obese are more likely to suffer from diabetes and to develop certain forms of cancer.

What You Can Do Now

Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that should be dealt with as early as possible.  There are treatment options for obese children, such as diet and gastric bypass, but health professional believe that prevention is the best way to combat childhood obesity.  Parents should provide a balanced and healthy diet for their children.  They should also set a good example by leading a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious foods, and encouraging their children to participate in regular physical activities.


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