The increased rate of obesity means that obesity-related chronic diseases are becoming common among children and teenagers. Being overweight increases a child's risk for a number of diseases and conditions, including.
Teaching children about healthy eating and lifestyle habits is essential to ensure they lead long, healthy and productive lives. As body weight increases, so do the chance that a child will develop any of the following.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of all American children born in the year 2000 will eventually develop diabetes. While type 2 diabetes used to be commonly referred to as “adult-onset diabetes,” this is no longer the case because of a surge in the number of cases among children.
Evidence suggests a prominent link between childhood obesity and a condition known as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and is characterized by a hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is linked to high blood cholesterol, which in turn is linked with extra weight and poor diet.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is more common among children carrying extra pounds than it is among those closer to their recommended weight. Hypertension is associated with numerous other health problems, including cardiovascular disease.
Children who are obese typically have far more health issues than those who aren’t, and this includes problems involving the liver. In particular, children who are obese are more likely to develop a condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which can lead to cirrhosis, a form of liver disease caused by long-term damage.
Menstrual Problems among females
Often, teen and preteen girls who are severely overweight or obese reach puberty earlier than their peers. There is also evidence that suggests a connection between obesity among women and the development of fibroids and other menstrual problems later in life.
Many children who are overweight or obese ultimately develop a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses between breathing while asleep. In addition to being highly dangerous, prolonged sleep apnea has been linked to heart failure.
The bottom line
Most eating and lifestyle habits are formed earlier on, meaning that those who become obese or don’t eat and exercise adequately will likely continue these habits and become obese adults. The good news, however, is that many of the health problems associated with obesity can be countered with diet, exercise and weight loss, and this weight loss doesn’t have to be substantial in order to have positive effects on overall health.
Although there are treatment options for overweight children, prevention is the key to combating the childhood obesity epidemic.