The Lifelong Dangers Of Childhood Obesity

As parents, we work to instill all the things in our kids that we feel are important for them to be strong, functional adults. Whether it be a college education, exposure to the arts or a spiritual upbringing, we all want what’s best for our children and their futures. Unfortunately, many parents overlook a very important facet: physical health. Childhood obesity, once an anomaly, is now a common problem for many families. And while it may not seem like a big deal to have a soda with dinner or cookies for a snack, making these things a regular part of your child’s diet can be a problem. Children are not only fighting obesity earlier in life, the eating habits and health concerns that accompany it often follow them into adulthood. Here’s how obesity can affect your child.

Diabetes

A common problem with many older adults, Type 2 Diabetes has become an issue for children as well as teens. Formerly a rare diagnosis for children, the disease has increased by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years, primarily due to the fact that a higher percentage of children and teens are now obese. There is a direct link between obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and while the disease itself is treatable, acquiring it at an early age can mean a lifetime of other problems, including blindness, kidney disease and heart disease. Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable when a person maintains a healthy weight, diet and lifestyle.

Organ And Heart Health

Our bodies are wondrous machines designed to function efficiently, with all organs working together for what are hopefully optimum results. Extra weight can cause serious side effects that make that function less efficient and potentially life-threatening. Obesity can cause hardened arteries, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow freely and means the heart has to work much harder to get blood where it needs to go. Being overweight can also cause diminished lung function, skin ulcers and a serious decline in cognitive health, as well as increasing the risk for colon issues such as colorectal cancer.

Self-Esteem

In a perfect world, society would and should be accepting and accommodating to all sizes. Unfortunately, obesity can wreak havoc on one’s self-esteem, with kids and teens tending to be harder on themselves (and each other) than adults. Teens especially cringe at the idea of attention being called to them, and things like needing a seat belt extender on a plane or not being able to buy clothes in the junior department can have long term effects on their confidence, as well as affecting school performance and emotional wellbeing.

Longevity

Childhood obesity often leads to long-term health issues, which in turn can shorten one’s lifespan overall. A childhood filled with poor food options, no exercise and other harmful behaviors can create lifelong habits that are incredibly difficult to break, and children who are obese are far more likely to remain obese into adulthood. Teaching kids to make informed food choices from the start helps them in making better decisions as adults, which will hopefully lead to longer, healthier lives.