Dangers of Childhood Obesity
In 2016, over 340 million children aged five to nineteen were classified as obese, and 41 million children under age five were either obese or overweight. Obesity is defined as having an excess of body fat, and it occurs when the number of calories consumed is far greater than the number of calories expended. This can happen because of lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, as well as genetics and environmental factors. Childhood obesity is incredibly dangerous, as it not only creates health problems for the child in the present, but it can lead to additional long-term health risks, social problems, educational deficiencies and more. Parents can enroll their children in childhood obesity prevention programs to learn how to properly manage and prevent childhood obesity.
Both short-term and long-term health risks are a major concern for a child who is considered obese. When the child is young, he or she may suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, joint problems, heartburn, gallstones, fatty liver disease, and more. Obese children are at a direct risk of obtaining any of these health issues at any time.
Unfortunately, the health risks do not stop there. Generally speaking, obese children grow into obese adults, and they then face another slew of potential health risks and problems. Heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and some cancers are all linked to obesity in adulthood, and studies have shown that if a person is obese as a child, he or she is likely to have more extreme obesity as an adult.
Obese children often face social problems in addition to dealing with health concerns. They may be discriminated against or made fun of by other children or even adults, and this can result in poor self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and a poor quality of life. Children who are obese may also suffer from depression and anxiety, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and emotional problems.
Childhood obesity prevention is a great way to help a child attain or maintain a healthy weight. The most successful childhood obesity prevention programs will give parents and children some steps to take to optimize health and get to an ideal weight. These programs generally include helping the child make wiser nutritional choices, as well as increasing physical activity and simultaneously reducing sedentary activities.
Since school is a social atmosphere for children, obesity can negatively affect the educational experience of a child. If a child is being made fun of, left out of activities, or discriminated against in any way, he or she is less likely to enjoy school, leading to mediocre performance and a lack of interest in anything educational. In addition to social issues causing academic problems, obese children are more likely to miss more school than their peers due to health concerns, such as asthma and diabetes.
Childhood obesity management is key in helping obese children conquer weight problems early on so they are not plagued with obesity for their entire lives. Children learn diet and physical activity habits early on, and those become harder to change as they age, so it’s incredibly important to instill correct national choices and a love for being active when they are young.
If you’re concerned that your child is overweight or obese, or you are ready to enroll your child in childhood obesity prevention programs or a childhood obesity management program, be sure to contact one of our NCHS locations to learn more about obesity screening and childhood obesity prevention.