Sunday, December 24, 2006

Childhood Obesity - What Are The Risks?

Let’s look at these risks in detail:

Type II Diabetes – Diabetes is a serious condition that requires dietary restrictions, and oral or injectible insulin.

Even with appropriate treatment, diabetes has long-term health risks that include circulatory disease, an inability to heal from wounds and injuries, stress on the heart and pulmonary system, and even blindness, stroke and coma.

Diabetes in children is nearly always due to obesity and lack of proper diet and exercise.

Heart Disease – If your child is not getting enough of the right nutrients and enough exercise, they are at risk for early heart disease.

These conditions can require medication and careful monitoring and may lead to long-term heart disease.

Joint and Weight Bearing – Short term growth issues, leg bowing, hip displacement and long term deterioration and disfigurement of the lower joints and bones.

Self Esteem and Confidence Issues – Children who are overweight or obese are self-conscious and typically have low self-esteem and confidence as compared to other children.

They are less likely to TRY to meet challenges and therefore are often unaware of their own competence and skill in most areas of life.

Children will often tease or bully overweight friends and classmates. If you think this is happening to your child, involve the school administration and be sure that your child gets the support they need.

High Blood Pressure – Hypertension is a serious issue, especially in children. High blood pressure puts a significant strain on your child’s growing body. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and in some cases can cause stroke and other serious health risks.

High Cholesterol – Can be difficult to control with diet alone, and may require medication. Among the risks of elevated ‘bad’ cholesterol: Heart attack and stroke.

Depression – Obese children often suffer from depression because of their feelings of self-loathing and/or because of the way they are treated by others.

Depression can also result from lack of exercise and inappropriate stimulation of brain chemicals that balance mood.

If your child is isolated by his obesity and has low self-esteem he may experience feelings of hopelessness and begin to lose interest in normal activities. He may sleep more or less than he used to and he may be more emotional than normal.

Some children go in the opposite direction and demonstrate an emotionally ‘flat’ demeanor instead of being extremely emotional.

If you believe your child is depressed, you should talk with him and with your child’s teacher and doctor to agree on a team approach to the problem.

In severe cases, doctors may prescribe medication to get your child through these temporarily trying times until you can get their physical and emotional health back on track.

Sleep Disruption – Lack of exercise can impede production and stimulation of the brain chemicals that control sleep and appetite patterns.

If it is difficult for your child to breathe in certain positions, your child may also suffer from sleep disruption due to conditions like apnea.

If your child is not getting enough sleep to help them grow and to give them mental clarity during the day, you will find that these abnormal sleep patterns will disrupt healthy growth and mental clarity.

Pulmonary Problems – Asthma, wheezing, and shortness of breath are just some of the complications seen in obese children.

Skin Disorders – Overweight and obese children have a tendency toward skin conditions and inflammation, especially if the child has deep skin folds on their body on the abdomen, legs or arms.

Disorders include heat rash, dermatitis and acanthosis nigricans, which may indicate the onset of Type II Diabetes.

Increased Chance of Adult Obesity – An obese child is much more likely to become an obese adult, with lifelong health and emotional problems to match!

There is certainly more to the story but if what we have told you already doesn’t frighten you into action, you are probably not paying attention!

Numbers don’t lie:

25% of obese children have high blood pressure.
85% of children diagnosed with Type II diabetes are obese

Among grade 9-12 students surveyed in 1999

16% were in the 85th percentile (17% male, 14% female)

10% were in the 95th percentile (12% male, 8% female, )


30% thought of themselves as overweight (36% female, 25% male)

37% of Hispanic students considered themselves overweight

29% of White students considered themselves overweight

25% of Black students considered themselves overweight

43% said they were trying to lose weight (59% female, 26% male)

51% of Hispanic students were trying to lose weight

43% of White students were trying to lose weight

36% of Black students were trying to lose weight

58% used exercise within the past 30 days to lose weight or control weight

67% of girls reported using exercise to lose weight or control weight

49% of boys reported using exercise to lose weight or control weight

40% said they ate less food, consumed fewer calories, or ate foods low in fat to lose weight or control weigh

56% of girls reported eating less food, consuming fewer calories, or eating foods low in fat to lose weight or control weight

25% of boys reporting eating less food, consuming fewer calories, or eating foods low in fat to lose weight or control weight

13% reported fasting (going without eating for 24 hrs or more) to lose weight or control weight

19% of girls reported fasting

6% of boys reported fasting

8% reporting taking diet pills, liquids or powders WITHOUT consulting a doctor to lose or control weight

11% of girls reported taking diet pills, liquids or powders

4% of boys reported taking diet pills, liquids or powders

5% reported vomiting or taking laxatives to lose or control weight

7% of girls reported using these techniques

2% of boys reported using these techniques

We hope you now understand the risks of your child being overweight or obese.

And you can see from the results of the high-school student survey that adolescents employ many ways (both healthy and unhealthy) to try to cope with their weight.

If your child is younger, you can’t wait that long to get them back on track.

If your child is already an adolescent, give them the tools, information and support to get healthy and to lose weight the RIGHT WAY!

About The Author: Janet Hart is the owner of http://www.freefamilyhelp.com A free family resource site offering free tips, books, and more. Sign up today for a free newsletter to receive even more parenting tips! http://www.freefamilyhelp.com

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