The Health Risk Overweight Children May Face Later in Life

Ross Quade | Children | 27 Oct, 2015 | No Comments


hungry little girl eating a big hamburger

Overweight adolescents and children have a significantly heightened chance of becoming obese adults. Weight gain is a hard cycle to break. Eating an unhealthy diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle are two causes of the three most common death causes in adults: cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer. Unfortunately, the rising rate of obesity indicates that chronic diseases caused by obesity are becoming much more common in both children and teenagers. Being overweight puts a child at risk for numerous conditions and illnesses. Here is a look at the health risks overweight children may face later in life.


Increased Risk of Diabetes

Children who are overweight have a heightened chance of developing type 2 diabetes. This disease is a chronic condition that has an impact on the way that the body utilizes glucose (sugar). Both obesity and a sedentary lifestyle put both children and adults alike at risk of developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but the name was changed because overweight children and young adults began to develop the disease. One study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected that every one in three children born in the US after 2000 will contract diabetes at some point in their life.


Problems With Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself but instead is a cluster of conditions that put children in the right circumstance to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems. This group of conditions includes high triglycerides, abnormal HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess abdominal fat. All of these combined put a child at severe risk of heart disease.


High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

If a child eats a poor diet and doesn’t get enough exercise, then they can develop high cholesterol and increased blood pressure. These two conditions can cause plaque to build up in the arteries. After some time of this plaque being present, arteries begin to harden, and narrow, which thus increases the chance of both stroke and heart attack when the child grows up.


Increased Risk of Asthma

A recent study found that obese and overweight children have between a 40 and 50 percent increased risk of developing asthma when compared to a child who is an average weight. Another study found that 19.7 percent of children who are between the ages of 10 and 17 that have asthma were obese compared to 12.2 percent of children who did not have asthma in the US. It is thought that the cause of this is that a higher weight directly contributes to the development of asthma later in life, and for those who already have asthma it can contribute to a more severe condition.


Behavior Problems as a Child and Adult

Those who grew up overweight tend to develop poorer social skills and have anxiety compared to those who are a healthy weight. In extreme cases, overweight children can act out in their classroom, which thus leads them down a road of poor social habits. On the other hand, it can also cause children to be more withdrawn from their peers and drastically affect their confidence levels, which also affect them later in life. Additionally, children who are overweight may experience teasing and bullying from their peers, which further lowers their self-esteem.


Problems With Sleep Apnea

A study performed on the link between childhood obesity and sleep apnea found that sleep apnea among obese children is as prevalent as 60 percent. Sleep apnea can be an extremely dangerous disorder, caused by a person stopping and starting their breathing rapidly when he or she is sleeping. Another study performed on children that have sleep troubles found that the risk of developing sleep apnea later in life is much higher in those children who were obese compared to children that were a healthy weight.


Leading Causes of Depression

Having low-esteem caused by being overweight can foster feelings of hopelessness and sadness. When a child loses hope and develops constant feelings of sadness, they often feel that their lives will never improve, which thus causes depression. The signs of depression are often quite noticeable in children, as they often will lose interest in daily activities, sleep more, and often cry more than normal. However, some children will instead cover up their sadness and instead seem to be emotionally flat. However depression affects a child, it is as serious a disorder as it is in adults, and can severely stunt a child’s mental growth.


Early Puberty in Young Girls

Obesity in young girls can cause a significant hormone imbalance that can cause puberty to begin earlier than on average. This early puberty can cause confusion in young girls who are too immature to handle the change in their body. It can also cause low self-esteem for those girls whose peers have not yet started.


Musculoskeletal Issues

Carrying an excess amount of weight can put a strain on the musculoskeletal system. This can cause severe orthopedic issues in children such as Blount’s Disease and a slipped epiphysis because of the impact of obesity on a still developing skeletal system. One study found that musculoskeletal pain was significantly higher in obese children than in children who were a normal weight. This can lead to severe foot, ankle, and back problems later in life.


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