Childhood obesity is a major problem and constitutes a serious medical condition. Obesity in children is especially worrisome because this condition of having extra weight will most likely lead kids down a path toward damage to good health, early onset diseases, and a lifetime of dangerous habits. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, several types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and even heart disease.
The number of children considered obese has more than tripled in the last 30 years, according to the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Overweight kids are more likely to become overweight adults and are therefore more at risk for developing obesity-related adult health problems
The Causes of Childhood Obesity
Some kids are overweight due to genetic and hormonal conditions which may cause them to gain additional amounts of weight. Most kids do not fall into this category and are overweight simply because they eat too much and exercise too little. Like adults, kids who are overweight need to do two things – change their eating habits and get more exercise. Today’s kids spend far too much time in front of a television, computer, or video game.
Sometimes the reasons a child may be overweight are psychological in nature. It is not uncommon for children to use over-eating as a means of comforting themselves and cope with stress, family problems, or unresolved situations in which they have little or no control. Sometimes kids are overweight due to a family history of obesity, or if they are in certain low-income situations where time and resources for eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may not be available.
Many Factors Increase the Risks of Childhood Obesity
The number one reason kids are overweight is usually due to their diet. Kids who regularly consume high-calorie foods such as fast food, baked foods, and items found in a vending machine are more likely to put on excess weight. These foods are typically contain very high levels of fat, trans-fat, sugar, and preservatives.
Getting control of a child’s eating habits now will help the child to develop healthy eating habits as an adult. Take a close look at the type of foods you purchase at the grocery store. Do you provide lots of cookies, chips, sugary cereals, or other high-calorie items? These type of foods can contribute greatly to the overall weight gain in children, especially over the long-term.
Why it’s Important to Get on Top of Childhood Obesity
Parents and family members should look at treating and preventing childhood obesity in order to protect the long-term health of a child. Approaching a child about his or her excess weight can be a delicate maneuver and must be handled with the utmost care and concern for the child’s feelings. The last thing any parent wants is to destroy or negatively affect s child’s self-esteem. The best approach is to lead by example and encourage the overweight child to change gradually.
Complications of childhood obesity include Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, asthma, breathing problems, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Children who are overweight may also experience sleeping disorders like sleep apnea. Overweight kids are typically singled out and picked on more frequently by bullies, thus decreasing what may be an already abnormally low self-esteem.
Overweight kids are more likely to experience behavioral and learning problems, suffer more anxiety, and have less-developed social skills than normal-weight children of the same age. Sometimes these conditions will lead to overweight kids acting out or being generally disruptive at school or in other social situations. Some overweight kids with lower self-esteem may feel hopeless and eventually become depressed.
In general, there are a lot more negative aspects associated with childhood obesity than just the excess weight. Low self-esteem, depression, early onset of diseases, and even a shortened life span should serve as a warning sign for parents and friends of obese kids. Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at the problem of childhood obesity. If your child has a weight problem, seek professional help from a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. Lets help kids get a chance at a long and healthy life.
MayoClinic.com; Childhood Obesity
CDC.com; Childhood Obesity