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Childhood Obesity - II(1)

Por Alvin N. Eden, M.D. -

I would like to explain why, as a parent, you should do everything possible to prevent your child from ever becoming overweight. I will also discuss helping your child lose weight safely and permanently if he/she is already obese.

The dangers of adult obesity are very well known. Overweight adults have a higher risk of suffering heart attacks or strokes, and are also at greater risk for certain types of cancer. But the dangers of childhood obesity are not well known, therefore many parents either ignore it or don’t worry enough about it. The fact of the matter is that there are many reasons why childhood obesity is unhealthy. Here are some of the most important problems associated with overweight and obesity in children:

  1. High blood pressure (hypertension):Obesity is the leading cause of high blood pressure in children. When obese children lose weight, it also lowers their blood pressure.
  2. Cholesterol levels:Many investigations have demonstrated that overweight children have higher blood cholesterol levels than those who are within the normal weight range or those who are thin. Weight loss lowers cholesterol levels.
  3. Type 2 diabetes:The current epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents in the United States is associated with obesity. Obesity is the most important factor leading to the development of type 2 diabetes. 
  4. Obstructive sleep apnea:This condition is characterized by not breathing for extended periods during sleep and is seen much more often in overweight children than in normal-weight children. Sleep apnea often leads to children sleeping during the day and can result in impaired learning.
  5. Emotional problems:Overweight children are often teased by their peers. They are called names and excluded from games. There is a real prejudice associated with being too fat. All of this leads to low self-esteem and even serious depression.
  6. Adult obesity:The longer a child remains overweight, the more likely he/she will remain overweight throughout adulthood and have serious health consequences. This is the most dangerous aspect of childhood obesity. The relapse rate of adult obesity treatment is well over 95%. This means that less than 5 out of more than 100 obese adults are able to successfully maintain their weight loss. When re-examined 2 to 5 years after reaching normal weight, over 95 out of 100 adults had regained all the weight.

 How prevalent is childhood obesity today? Current statistics are frightening. According to the latest figures, the percentage of overweight children in the United States has doubled since 1980. Latino boys have the highest obesity rate among school children and adolescents. About 30% of our children are significantly overweight. By that, I mean they cannot pass the “eyeball test.” This is the best way to decide if your child is too fat; look at your child, and if they look fat, then they are. This is called visually obese.
My future articles will discuss what parents can do to prevent their children from becoming overweight. If your child is already overweight, I will explain how you can help him/her lose the extra pounds easily and safely.


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