Childhood Obesity Effects
Childhood obesity effects can range from potentially serious health problems to psychological and social issues. That's why there is considerable concern among parents, researchers, and national leaders today about childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity effects are many and varied and can include:
- The development of serious health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers as early as age 20.
- Early puberty or menarche (menstruation).
- Respiratory problems such as asthma.
- Problems sleeping and potential for sleep apnea.
- Bullying by normal-weight children.
- Low self-esteem as a result of bullying or comparing one's physical appearance to other children or children in the movies, on TV, or in magazines.
- Depression from social isolation and low self-esteem.
- Possible learning problems if a child develops social anxiety and does not wish to participate in classroom or school activities.
These negative effects can continue to impact a child for years to come and even a lifetime in some cases. So, if you suspect your child is obese or even overweight, see your pediatrician immediately. Your child's doctor may recommend a physical exam and tests to rule out any underlying medical causes of childhood obesity. If those tests establish that your child's condition is the result of poor eating habits and/or lack of physical activity, he can make several helpful recommendations. These may include regular physical activity and healthy eating as a family, so that your overweight or obese child doesn't feel singled out.
A healthy diet can be achieved by eating balanced, nutritious meals whenever possible, avoiding fast foods and processed foods, limiting snacks and snacking on fruits, vegetables and other healthy options such as low-fat cheese. Your pediatrician may recommend nutrients and supplements if he feels your child isn't getting enough nutrients in his or her diet.
Your pediatrician will also likely recommend making physical activity an enjoyable, playful time for children and the entire family, whenever possible. Possible activities could include family hikes, bike rides, swimming excursions, or pick-up baseball games in the backyard. You could also encourage your child to join a sports team or walk or ride their bikes to school whenever it is safe and weather permits. In all, children and adolescents need as much as 60 minutes a day of exercise, but start your new regimen slowly and gradually, and under the guidance of your pediatrician.
Above all, give your child unconditional love and acceptance. The emotional effects of childhood obesity can be even more devastating for your child if they feel unloved or disrespected.