Childhood Obesity: One Child At A Time

June 5, 2013

Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child's health or well-being.  Due to the rising prevalence of obesity in children, and its many adverse health effects, it has been recognized as a serious public health concern. The term overweight, rather than obese, is often used in children as it is less stigmatizing.

The first problems to occur in obese children are usually emotional or psychological. Childhood obesity however can also lead to life-threatening conditions including: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep problems, cancer, liver disease, early puberty or menarche, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, skin infections, and asthma or other respiratory problems. Studies have shown that overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults. Obesity during adolescence has been found to increase mortality rates during adulthood.

Obese children often suffer from teasing or bullying by their peers.  Some are harassed or discriminated against by their own family. Teens with weight problems tend to have much lower self-esteem and to be less popular with their peers. Stereotypes abound and may lead to long-term low self-esteem. Depression may not just arise in childhood, but into adulthood too.

In the past 30 years, the occurrence of overweight children has doubled, and it is now estimated that one in five children in the US are overweight. Increases in the prevalence of being overweight are seen in younger children, including preschoolers. In fact, at the time of this writing more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25%. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%.

As WLS patients and/or professionals we know obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize, but most difficult to treat.

If one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that their children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, the children have an 80% chance of being obese. Given this, it is imperative to adopt a healthy and fit lifestyle for ourselves and our children. Overcoming this statistic, it begins with us as parents.

Both the short-term and long-term effects of being overweight are of concern because of the negative psychological and health consequences in childhood.

Potential Negative Psychological Outcomes:

- Depression
- Poor Body Image
- Low Self-Concept
- Risk for Eating Disorders

Negative Health Consequences:

- Insulin Resistance
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Hypertension
- High Total and LDL Cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood
- Low HDL Cholesterol levels in the blood
- Sleep Apnea
- Early puberty
- Orthopedic problems such as Blount's disease and slipped capital femoral epiphysis
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis(fatty infiltration and inflammation of the liver)

Don't miss part two of this article: Click here to read Establishing Healthy Habits With Kids

cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

Read more articles by Cathy!