Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, currently one child in five are overweight. This has not only health repercussions but also social ones. Children that are considerably overweight to obese are often taunted and teased by children of better weight status. This taunting and teasing can have life long affects, carrying well into and through adulthood. This could affect their ability to cope with things, it could affect their ego, creating insurmountable self doubt.

Why Are Children Becoming Obese?

The reason for children becoming more and more overweight has to do with their amount of food consumption and the type of food they are consuming; it also has to do with how they spend their free time. Before computers and computer games, children played outside more, running, jumping, wrestling and a multitude of other activities that kept them in good physical condition, burning calories and creating a healthy amount of lean muscle mass. With the introduction of computers, there have been both good and bad results.

Children are learning much more and more quickly in some instances, because of the computer age, but they are also pulling away from any outdoor activities in favor of playing games on their computers. This makes them more lethargic as time goes on. With the lethargy, kids go out even less. Because they are not out exercising, they loose their lean muscle mass. Without the lean muscle mass that is the most adept at burning calories, the child builds up more fatty tissue. Fatty tissue is made to store not to burn, as a result, the body stores even more rather than burning it. This becomes a vicious cycle where the child just continues to gain weight.

Can Children Inherit Obesity From Parents?

Another factor in childhood obesity is one of hormonal or genetics, if the child’s parents are both obese it is not unlikely that the child will be too. The eating habits of the parents can also be transferred to the child. If the parent eats a lot, the child will also, not because of hunger, but because he or she sees the parents are eating. The child will also generally consume what the parents do (as long as it tastes good). This means if the parent eats a large amount of rich, fatty foods, the child will also consume these foods. These eating habits will continue well into adulthood if the individual doesn’t fight against it.

Health Risks For Obese Children

Childhood obesity causes a multitude of health problems, one of the most common being type II diabetes. They also have a tendency towards high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both of which are strong factors for heart problems.

Sleep Apnea – Life Threatening For Children

Many obese children suffer from a life threatening problem known as sleep apnea, this is where breathing stops off and on during sleep. The period of no breathing may be followed by a gasp for air that may or may not wake the child up. Sleep apnea can cause lack of oxygen to the brain and problems related to that. They may also suffer from some form of liver disease.

Because of the strain extra weight puts on the entire body, many obese children suffer from leg and foot problems and asthma.