Childhood obesity and Health risks

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Answered by: Christopher, An Expert in the Obesity and Your Health Category
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. This happens when a child or adolescent is highly above the normal weight for his/her age and height.

There is an epidemic of childhood obesity sweeping through the United States. It is estimated that one in five children, ages 6 through 17 are overweight. Many of these children face a high risk of developing obesity related problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Below you will find more information about the causes of childhood obesity along with the long term effects later in life if it is not controlled during childhood.

There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity and health risks:

Eating habits: Eating high calorie foods on a regular basis, such as fast foods and sugary snacks, can cause your child to gain weight easily.

Lack of exercise: Children who rarely exercise are more likely to gain weight because they tend not to burn enough calories doing physical activities.

Psychological factors: Some children tend to overeat to cope with their emotions, such as stress or boredom.

Family routines: If you tend to buy foods that are convenient for the family, such as cookies and chips, your child will have a higher risk of being obese.

Short and Long-term effects of childhood obesity

There are many short and long-term effects of being obese. The longer a child is obese, the greater the risk of long-term problems such as heart disease, cancer, joint problems, and diabetes.

Some of the short term effects start during childhood. These days, there are children as young as 6 years old with type 2 diabetes, which was thought of as an adult disease until now. Many of these short term effects include starting puberty too early, developing breasts, acne, and body hair earlier than usual. A more serious effect, obese girls may develop polycystic ovary syndrome (noncancerous cysts that grow on the ovaries, causing irregular menstrual periods and infertility.) This condition could even increase the risk of uterine cancer in the future. They are also at risk of developing a metabolic problem. When this happens, they tend to have abnormal weight gain in the stomach area, giving him/her an apple shaped look.

The long-term effect of being obese as a child includes many life-shortening health problems as an adult. The arteries can become clogged, causing an early stroke, the colon could get a tendency toward polyps that can lead to colon cancer, the bones and joints can become over worked from carrying all the extra weight over the years, leading to joint dysfunctions.

A long term psychological effect of an obese child tends to be a lot of self-esteem and depression. They also tend to be emotional about their weight, leading them to eat emotionally.

One of the best ways to reduce this problem is to improve diet and exercise habits of the child. Treating and preventing childhood obesity will help protect your child's health now, and in the future.Doing so, will decrease the chance of childhood obesity and health risks associated with it.

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