Childhood Obesity

by Shannon Webber

Working in an emergency room, I have seen some scary stuff. But nothing scares me more than seeing a child that weighs more than I do which is about 180lbs. Seeing children that have difficulty in breathing, they can barely walk, they have no sense of coordination, and at the same time are complaining of abdominal pain while drinking a Mountain Dew and eating Cheetos. So my contribution to this site is about childhood obesity. What is it? What are the causes? What are the risk factors? Who is responsible? What are the complications? How do you prevent it? How do you treat it? Well, I am going to tell you.

Definition of childhood obesity: occurs when a child is above normal weight for his or her height and age.

Causes: some of the less common causes are genetics and hormonal imbalances. The major cause is eating to high of a calorie intake that includes "junk food" like fast foods, fried foods, candy, sodas, chips, etc. and not getting enough exercise in.

Risk factors:
  • Diet
  • Inactivity
  • Genetics
  • Psychological factors
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Family


The complications of being an obese child and an overweight child are overwhelming. From a psychological standpoint, obese children have low self esteem. Sometimes the reason children overeat is to drown out emotions of trauma and sadness. When they eat, the sadness or the feeling they don't like to feel, goes away. But when they go to school, they are taunted by their peers and are called mean names, so what do they do? They eat more. Many obese children are depressed, and have behavioral problems. In addition to the psychological factors, obese children are subjected to DM Type 2, high blood pressure, asthma, sleeping disorders, liver failure, and skin infections. If children do not get treatment, they will have these problems for the rest of their lives.

So who is to blame? A lot of people will point the finger at the parents. In reality though with the economy in the gutter, both parents are working and trying to save money by buying foods for convenience like high processed foods and fast foods. In another aspect though, if you have a mom that's obese and a dad that's obese, you will probably adapt their lifestyle of inactivity and overeating. [Editor's note: Two obese parents indicate the children have a higher genetic risk for being obese themselves; there are also environmental factors at work, too. ---Judy Learn]

To prevent your child from overeating, there are a number of things you can do.
1.) Schedule yearly well child checks with your pediatrician
2.) Set a good example- if you eat well, your child will eat well
3.) Keep a positive attitude with your child
4.) Do some fun activities with your child that involve some calorie burning
5.) Keep your child busy with activities he/she likes to do...soccor, baseball, basketball
Treatment for the obese child

1.) Make dietary changes
2.) Increase and encourage physical activity...start slow and increase gradually.
3.) Psychotherapy for children with emotional, or trauma related issues
4.) Be patient with your child
5.) Medications are sometimes used
6.) In extreme cases weight loss surgery.

Hope you enjoy this tid bit of information and hope it helps!
Shannon M Webber

More info on many helpful topics at http://www.mayoclinic.com

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