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Effects of Childhood Obesity

During the last three decades, the number of overweight children throughout the world has doubled. In the United States alone, more than 30% children between the ages of 6-19 are considered overweight out of which 15% are termed as obese. The term Childhood obesity is growing at such an alarming rate globally that it has become a crucial issue discussed in the World Health Organization and other important organizations around the world

What is Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity is a medical condition in which the weight of the child becomes disproportionate to his age and height. This phenomenon is most commonly found in children below the age of 15 years. It is caused by overeating, which means more food intake than the requirement of the body.
How Obesity can be measured
Body Mass Index or BMI is a tool used to measure obesity in an individual. It is calculated by dividing the weight of the individual in kilograms by his height in meters square. It can then be compared and evaluated with normal values.
Causes for childhood obesity
This globally rising problem has reached epidemic proportions. This is because of a multitude of reasons. They include:
  • Consumption of fast food.
  • The addition of enzymes, steroids and other non-natural ingredients to foods such as milk.
  • The easy accessibility of vending machines everywhere including schools, theaters and shopping malls.
  • Lack of exercise. This is because children are becoming more and more addicted to stationary activities like computers and television.
  •  Time constraints force many families to reduce meal preparation time
  • Increase in junk food advertisements on television.

Effects of Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity has many effects on children. They can be classified into 2 broad categories which are Medical effects and Psychological Effects.

1. Medical effects: Medical effects include the following diseases:
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Cardiovascular risks like heart failure or stroke.
  • Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa
  • Early sexual maturity
  • Lack of stamina
  • Orthopedic problems including abnormal bone growth, degenerative disease, and pain.
  • Decreased life expectancy
  • Asthma and other pulmonary diseases.

2. Psychological Effects of Childhood Obesity
Besides the physical effects, there are many psychological effects of childhood obesity. They are:
  • Social discrimination
  • Low self-esteem
  • Increased risk of teasing and bullying
  • Poor body image
  • Depression
  • Fear of being disliked by parents and friends
  • Becoming lonely and anti-social, thus resorting to drugs.
  • Negative Image.

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