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Health risks tied to childhood obesity

By Jie Yin, Contributing writer
Published On: Jul 22 2013 02:28:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2013 09:44:48 AM CDT
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Childhood obesity has long been a major concern of both parents and doctors. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in three children and teens in the United States is obese.

It is suggested that children who are overweight have twice the chance of having medical complications, according to research conducted by UCLA. Childhood obesity can cause a series of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the common health consequences of childhood obesity.

In addition, childhood obesity can also lead to low self-esteem and depression. 

Take a look at some of the health consequences of childhood obesity.

Cardiovascular: Obese youth are more likely to have heart and cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease: According to a recent study from AHA, overweight children ages 7 to 13 are under at higher risk of developing heart disease beginning at the age of 25. Type 2 diabetes, which is also known as “adult onset,” was considered an “adult” health problem until recently. At least 65 percent of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke when the disease is not well treated.

Sleep apnea and asthma: Childhood obesity has been associated with increased risks of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in children, according to an article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Recent findings also suggest that childhood obesity may be linked to asthma.

Joint problems: Childhood obesity is often linked to flat feet, excessive body weight and poor balance. A study published in Pediatrics found that leg injuries were much higher in obese children compared with normal-weight kids. The study also showed that the overweight children are more likely to get sprains and broken bones.

Low self-esteem: Overweight children are often the targets of early social discrimination, which may trigger a low self-esteem due to the social and psychological pressure.

To prevent childhood obesity, the Mayo Clinic suggests parents schedule annual well-child visits to keep track with the child’s height, weight and BMI (body mass index).  Parents should also set a good example for their children by keeping a healthy lifestyle and inviting children to join their healthy diet and exercising.

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