There are a number of dangers associated with childhood obesity that parents need to be aware of. With more than 33% of children in the US overweight or obese, your child may be struggling with this issue and you might be at your wit’s end as to how to help them.
First, let’s look at the dangers. Then we can explore ways to help your child slim down safely.
The risks of childhood obesity
Studies have shown that children who are obese are actually developing the same diseases that doctors would expect to find in older people, such as those who have reached middle age. Children are now developing:
High blood pressure
This puts them at risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
This is a known risk factor for heart health issues.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes, and occurred due to viral or other damage to the part of the body that produces insulin, the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes usually occur in older adults as a result of what is termed insulin resistance, in which the body is not able to cope with the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Glucose provides energy to all the cells in the body. With insulin resistance, however, the dietary glucose can’t enter the cells as easily, so it builds up in the blood, leading to high blood sugar or hyperglycemia.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms include unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, frequent urination, constant hunger, tiredness, and blurry vision. It can do significant damage to the body if it is not brought under control.
Many overweight children have respiratory issues, such as asthma or exercise intolerance. They might also have sleep apnea, in which the airway gets cut off, causing them to wake for seconds at a time many times in the night because they are gasping for breath.
Back and knee pain are very common.
Obese children are more likely to have indigestion, acid reflux, and gallstones.
Mental health issues
Obese children will often be bullied. They might be depressed, anxious, lacking in self-confidence and isolated.
Helping your child lose weight
Look up their Body Mass Index. Check the number of calories they are supposed to have based on their age and gender. Practice portion control. Make every calorie count. Limit sugar, salt and fat and steer clear of junk food. Use the Food Plate system to plan balanced meals. Then see what a difference all your efforts make to your child’s health.