Health Effects Of Childhood Obesity

Health Risks of Obesity in Children

child obesityChildhood obesity is associated with various health effects such as diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine or certain orthopedic problems.Obese children and adolescents may experience immediate health consequences and may be at risk for obesity-related health problems in adulthood. Obesity in children and particularly adolescents is related to increased morbidity and mortality in later life. This is one reason why scientists believe this generation of children could be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Child obesity research scientists are currently studying both the physical and mental effects of childhood obesity (see childhood obesity effects). Obese children are at risk for developing health problems that affect their present and future health and quality of life, including:

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effects of childhood obesityEffects Of Childhood Obesity
Some of the health effects of child obesity include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea etc.[Read more]
psychosocial effects of child obesityPsychosocial Effects Of Child Obesity
The most immediate effect of obesity in children is social discrimination. This is associated with poor self-esteem and depression.[Read more]

Medical Effects of Childhood Obesity

Cardiovascular Disease Risks
Obese children and teens have been found to have cardiovascular disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abnormal insulin tolerance, abnormal blood lipid levels. These factors can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, heart failure, and stroke as adults.

In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of obese children had at least one have cardiovascular disease risk factors while 25 percent of obese kids had two or more have cardiovascular risk factors. Preventing child obesity may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as kids get older.

Steadily elevated blood pressure levels have been found to occur about 9 times more frequently among obese children and adolescents (ages 5 to 18).

Obese children and adolescents are reported to be 2.4 times more likely to have high diastolic blood pressure and 4.5 times more likely to have high systolic blood pressure.

In a population-based sample, approximately 60 percent of obese children aged 5 to 10 years had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor, such as elevated total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin or blood pressure, and 25 percent had two or more risk factors.("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)

Prevalence of overweight is reported to be significantly higher in children and adolescents with moderate to severe asthma compared to a peer group. Shortness of breath makes exercise, sports, or any physical activity more difficult and may worsen symptoms or increase the chances of developing asthma.

Asthma is a lung disease in which the airways become blocked or narrowed making breathing difficult. Studies have identified an association between child obesity and asthma and other respiratory problems.

Type 2 diabetes
In recent years, Type 2 diabetes has begun to emerge as a health-related problem among obese children and adolescents which was believed as health effects of adult obesity. The parallel increase of obesity in children and adolescents is reported to be the most significant factor for the rise in diabetes. Onset of diabetes in children and adolescents can result in advanced complications such as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

childhood obesity diabetes

Obese children and adolescents are reported to be 12.6 times more likely than non-obese to have high fasting blood insulin levels, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is predominant among African American and Hispanic youngsters, with a particularly high rate among those of Mexican descent.

For children born in the United States in 2000, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives is estimated to be about 30 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)

Data from the NACHRI Case Mix Program show inpatient diabetes cases in children's hospitals have increased approximately 12 percent between 2002 and 2004, and average adjusted estimated costs have grown approximately 10 percent during the same time frame. (Information pulled September 2005. NACHRI maintains the nation's largest pediatric-specific inpatient database, housing over 3 million discharge records from 72 children's hospitals.)

Early puberty or Menarche
Obese children tend to mature earlier. They may be taller and more sexually mature than their peers, raising expectations that they should act as old as they look, not as old as they are.

Hepatic Steatosis
It is the fatty degeneration of the liver caused by a high concentration of liver enzymes.

childhood obesity effectsSleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a rare complication of child obesity for obese kids and adolescents. It is a breathing disorder described as the cessation of breathing during sleep that lasts for at least 10 seconds. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring and labored breathing. During sleep apnea, oxygen levels in the blood can fall dramatically.

It is estimated that sleep apnea occurs in about 7% of obese children. Deficits in logical thinking are common in children with obesity and sleep apnea.

Orthopedic Complications
Childhood Obesity brings several orthopedic effects like bone and joint problems. Among growing youth, bone and cartilage in the process of development are not strong enough to bear excess weight. As a result, a variety of orthopedic complications occur in children and adolescents with obesity. In young children, excess weight can lead to bowing and overgrowth of leg bones.

Increased weight on the growth plate of the hip can cause pain and limit range of motion. Between 30 to 50 percent of children with this condition are overweight.

Reproductive problems
Obese girls may have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in adulthood.

Additional Health Risks
-Certain types of cancer
-Gallbladder disease
-Metabolic syndrome
-Sleep disorders
-Liver disease
-Eating disorders
-Rashes or fungal infections of the skin, acne

In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults. Obesity develops over time, and once it has done so, is difficult to treat. Therefore, the prevention of Obesity offers the most effective means of preventing obesity in children as well.

childhood obesity preventionTips for parents

What can you do as a parent or guardian or caregiver to help preventing childhood obesity? We have some ideas in our Childhood Obesity Prevention section.

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long term effects of childhood obesityLong Term Effects Of Childhood Obesity
The long term effects of child obesity are numerous. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes are all major effects of childhood obesity.

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