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The Effects of Overweight and Obesity on Children’s Health

Posted Aug 19 2009 6:32pm
The first effects of high weight or obesity in children are emotional and psychological. These are soon followed by the physical effects on a child or adolescent’s health.

Some of the emotional and psychological issues related to a child being overweight not only affect them through adolescence, but into adulthood.

Teasing:Studies have shown that though children who are exercising to lose excess weight may be teased by their peers, the children who dealt with and discussed the issue openly, rather than avoiding exercise, had a healthier self-esteem and enjoyed exercise more.

Discrimination:Overweight or obese children are often the subject of social discrimination. They can often unknowingly be discriminated against by their own family members. It is important for parents to encourage their children to be active and speak openly about concerns they have about their weight and related activities without pressure or judgment. Parents should focus on their child’s health and positive attributes without focusing on weight.

Stereotypes: With society’s view of weight-gain and obesity seen as “fair-game,” children are the most susceptible to the negative effects of weight-related stereotypes.

Low Self-Esteem:In children, body-type is most associated with appearance and athletic ability, rather than competence, as in adults. The effects of overweight and obesity become strongest as children move into adolescence. These formative years can have a profound effect on adult attitudes.

Anxiety and Depression:Parents should be watchful for signs that their child is having problems—such as changes in sleep habits, withdrawal from their normal activities or unusual irritability.

Overweight and obesity can lead to problems in childhood, adolescence and on to adulthood.

Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes.

High Blood Pressure:The American Heart Associate notes a direct link between high blood pressure and overweight children. A special diet and physical activity may be prescribed by the doctor to help lower high blood pressure in overweight children.

Heart Disease:The U.S. Surgeon General reports that overweight children are more susceptible to heart disease as adults.

Sleep and Respiratory Problems:Research shows that at least one-fourth of overweight children have serious sleep problems. Not sleeping well can affect children's behavior, their ability to function in school. Sleep problems can often be caused by apnea and other respiratory issues brought on by overweight. Three months of physical activity showed an 80% improvement for children diagnosed with sleep problems.

Cancer:The American Cancer Society reports that overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, gall bladder, pancreas, and kidney and that since overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, they are at higher risk for these diseases.

Liver Disease:With some overweight children developing liver disease and even requiring transplants, health experts are urging pediatricians to watch for warning signs and address the problem through lifestyle changes.

Early Puberty:Studies show there is a link between body fat and puberty. They lend support to the idea that the obesity epidemic among children in the U.S. may be driving a trend toward earlier puberty in girls.

If you are concerned about your family's health, talk to Chris Keith.
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