Health Risks of Obesity in Children

Before 3 years of age, parental obesity is a stronger predictor of obesity in adulthood than the child’s weight status. These observations have important implications for recognition of risk and routine anticipatory guidance directed toward healthy eating and activity patterns in families.

Widespread and profound societal changes during the last several decades have affected child rearing, which in turn has affected childhood patterns of physical activity as well as diet. This behavior however, when left uncorrected will reflect in the child’s later years even as a teenager or an adult.

The National survey data indicate that children are currently less active than they have been in previous surveys. Leisure activity is increasingly sedentary. The wide availability of entertainment such as television, videos, and computer games have turned children into couch potatoes.

In addition, with increasing urbanization, there has been a decrease in frequency and duration of physical activities of daily living for children, such as walking to school and doing household chores.

Changes in the availability and requirements of school physical education programs have also generally decreased children’s routine physical activity, with the possible exception of children specifically enrolled in athletic programs. All these factors play a potential part in the epidemic of obesity.

Health risks of obesity

The following are the major complication of obesity:

  • Cardiovascular: congestive heart failure, enlarged heart and its associated arrhythmias and dizziness, cor pulmonale, varicose veins, and pulmonary embolism
  • Endocrine: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menstrual disorders, and infertility
  • Gastrointestinal: gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), fatty liver disease, cholelithiasis (gallstones), hernia, and colorectal cancer
  • Renal and genitourinary: urinary incontinence, glomerulopathy, hypogonadism (male), breast cancer (female), uterine cancer (female), stillbirth
  • Integument(skin and appendages):stretch marks, acanthosis nigricans, lymphedema, cellulitis, carbuncles, intertrigo
  • Musculoskeletal: hyperuricemia (which predisposes to gout), immobility, osteoarthritis, low back pain
  • Neurologic: stroke, meralgia paresthetica, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, dementia
  • Respiratory: dyspnea, obstructive sleep apnea, hypoventilation syndrome, Pickwickian syndrome, asthma
  • Psychological: Depression, low self esteem, body dysmorphic disorder, social stigmatization

If children our children are not guided properly at a tender age, the risks involve will grow as they mature. In recent years the prevalence of obesity has increased. Prevention is very critical because long-term outcome data for a successful treatment is very limited according to may medical resources.

The family as an important support group should be educated and empowered through proper guidance so as they may recognize the impingement they have in the physical activities of their youngsters and teens as well as with adult members of the family suffering from obesity.  Support should come both from the family and health practitioners to help obese people recognize their through value as human beings.