Child Health – Childhood Obesity is an Entry to Chronic Diseases

Long known to radically increase the threat of particular chronic health situations later in life, childhood obesity also has severe and direct health consequences, according to a recent study published in Academic Pediatrics and conducted by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Obesity or fatness is normally considered as a condition associated to adults. Most parents, however, are unaware that children are as equally prone to suffer from obesity as adults, a fact supported by several current scientific studies. There are a lot of factors responsible for obesity, including too much consumption of junk food, a lack of fruits and vegetables intake, physical inactivity, or simply just eating too much. In many cases, likewise, childhood obesity has been tracked as a hereditary disease.

Whatever the cause for obesity may be, it should be kept in mind that this disease is not merely confined to causing its own harmful effects to your child’s health. Rather, it also welcomes other chronic diseases. Hence, it is important to know the consequences of childhood obesity so that you can prevent your child from becoming its victim. This article focuses on some of the major consequences children face as a result of obesity and serves as a tool of awareness to parents.

Health Risks in Obese Children

Let us take into account recent studies. Researchers have revealed that overweight children are 30% more prone to catch two or more mental, medical, or developmental problems than kids who are on a normal weight. Obese children hold this percentage at 200%.

UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities Director Neal Halfon stated that the study’s findings should be treated as a wake-up call to parents, physicians, and teachers, who must be better informed of the health risks related to childhood obesity.

With the increase of childhood obesity cases over the last 20 years, other childhood chronic diseases such as learning disabilities, asthma, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also on the rise.

Although previous studies have studied the connection between obesity and chronic diseases, they have merely either taken a small sample size or only paid attention to a single state or part of the country. In this current study, researchers built comprehensive health profiles of around 43,300 children with an age range between 10 to 17 years old, all over the United States.

These children were respondents in the National Survey of Children’s Health 2019. Around 15% of these kids had body mass indexes (BMIs) ranging from the 85th to 95th percentiles (considered as overweight), while 16% had BMIs over 95th percentile (considered as obese).

Researchers evaluated the weight on the basis of 21 pointers of general health, psychosocial functioning, and specific health disorders. The findings were adjusted to report for differences in various socio-demographic factors.

Overweight Kids at Risk of ADHD

Researchers also found out that obese children were considerably more at risk than normal-weight children to become victims of ADHD; asthma; allergies; bone, muscle, and joint problems; depression; conduct disorders; ear infections; developmental delays; behavioral and emotional problems; learning disabilities; and headaches. In effect, these health problems could lead to missed school days; falling grades, and other problems related to studying.

According to Halfon, this study paints a complete picture of childhood obesity as it reveals how many harmful chronic conditions are connected to this disease. More advanced studies, however, will be required to confirm the existing research. Longitudinal studies, in particular, would be of great help in confirming whether obesity is indeed the major cause behind chronic health conditions, or whether there are some other factors that come into play.

Other health experts argue whether obesity may be a source of co-morbidity, co-morbidity is the reason behind obesity, or both are results of some other unveiled factor. For instance, exposure to poisonous stress might modify the neuro regulatory phenomena that impact impulse control observed in ADHD, along with leptin sensitivity, which can significantly supply weight gain.

Researchers think that, in all possibility, the rising occurrence of childhood chronic health disorders stem from decades-long patterns which have radically changed the physical and social environments of infancy. They recommend that to avoid childhood obesity, focus should be given on developing childhood surroundings, while also monitoring affected or endangered children for both obesity and other related conditions.

The article is highly helpful for parents, who want to see their children live a healthy life, and for physicians, who are investigating this growing problem in the US youth’s population. This study is simply an initial step towards a vast world of knowledge that we all must be aware of.


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