The Medical Monthly: Childhood Obesity

By Garrett R. Garcia

We’ve previously talked about obesity and it’s different effects. It does not matter if you are a child or a full-grown adult, being obese is never good. Yet, the majority of the population turn a blind eye to childhood obesity. They make excuses such as, “They will thin out when they are older”. That, however, is not always the case.

 There are two very common and very harmful causes of obesity in both children and adults. These are lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. Exercise is something that all animals and humans need to maintain a functional lifestyle. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans all children who are at least six years old must exercise for a minimum of sixty minutes per day. One hundred and fifty years ago, our species was very active. Now, with all of our modern luxuries, we do not need to go and walk to town or go hunting all day just so that we can eat in winter. 

Parents can, at certain times, be oblivious to the fact that too much nutritious food may harm their child. Firstly, they can consume unhealthy sugary foods and drinks. Or, they can eat way too much nutritious food. With these different unhealthy habits, you have the perfect physical “recipe” for obesity. The rest of the causes are really just mental. While healthy food is overall more beneficial than sugary and greasy foods there is one more word that really separates the two. This word is one you might remember;  moderation. Moderation is a habit parents need to instill in their children so that they don’t finish off a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. No matter which way you look at it, Obesity comes down to a mental disorder that can cause health problems such as cardiac arrest and type two diabetes. These mental issues; Bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia can potentially lead to obesity, especially if the people who have these issues have a poor diet. Children are just as likely to develop these issues as an adult. Although they are not completely to blame, the child’s parents play a huge role in whether or not they are obese.

The effects of this issue are devastating on children. There are problems that are visible from the outside and there are also problems that reside in the body. “Potbelly” is a very common symptom that will develop from obesity. Lack of energy is also something that will affect your physical capabilities. This is because most people who are obese are carrying around two or more times their healthy body weight in fat. Having all of this weight is very strenuous on the body to carry around all day. This can potentially cause problems in your joints and bones. Children’s social life can be affected. They can be bullied, picked on or harassed because of their size. Because of this teasing and bullying, the child can develop low self-esteem. There have even been self-reports of a, “lower quality of life”. Parents might tell their children that they are perfect the way they are, however, this can be even more unhealthy as the child will continue to consume unhealthy food. Also, be careful because it’s not always the foods you and your children eat, but when you eat them too.

While it is less talked about, Childhood obesity is even worse on the body than normal obesity. This is because it can “manifest” inside the child’s body as they grow older. The conditions can worsen. Even if you change diets, there is still a huge risk for permanent health problems with your body. All it takes to change is you and nothing/no one else. Remember, it takes a mere sixty minutes of your day to change your whole life. It has also been proven that heavier people are able to burn fat faster than the average weighted person.

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