Childhood Obesity is a serious health issue that is unfortunately too common in Australia. Causes for childhood obesity vary genetically, though oftentimes stem from an unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle. Childhood obesity can lead to a vast array of risks due to the physical and mental strain it puts on the body.
Health Risks Associated With Childhood Obesity
Obesity can be extremely harmful and traumatic in nearly every aspect of overall health. Some health issues associated with childhood obesity are cardiovascular diseases due to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Other common issues are breathing problems such as asthma, joint and bone issues from the excess weight and pressure, fatty liver disease, gallstones, and heartburn.
Other Risks Associated With Childhood Obesity
As well as the onslaught of physical health risks, there are also a number of psychological risks that come with childhood obesity. Obese adolescents report a higher rate of anxiety and depression than those within a healthy weight range. This is not just because of physiological reasons such as hormonal imbalances. It can also be due to low self-esteem caused by bullying and stigma. Those with childhood and teen obesity also report a lower quality of life due to being physically incapable of joining in on certain tasks, sports, and activities because of their size and health issues.
How To Avoid and Overcome Childhood Obesity
The root cause of childhood obesity is generally a poor diet. However, it is also important to identify what emotional triggers, such as stress, might be influencing a child’s behaviours and their relationship with food. Visiting a child psychologist may be necessary to get to the bottom of this.
Many people believe that obesity is a result of simply overeating. The reality is that often times it is more about what types of foods are being consumed rather than how much. This doesn’t mean that portion control isn’t important, but instead indicates that if you are eating a healthy diet you will be less likely to overeat.
To improve your child’s diet, avoid processed foods and sugars. By mostly focusing on whole foods that are high in nutrients, healthy fats, and proteins such as vegetables, fruits, and fresh meats, you will find they get fuller faster, making it difficult to overeat. By avoiding processed sugars you will trigger fewer insulin spikes, which is not only good for overall health but prevents weight gain.
While diet is the root cause of weight gain, leading an active lifestyle goes hand in hand with a healthy diet in order to maintain a healthy weight. Children should be active for at least an hour every day. It can be difficult to motivate children to exercise, but the health benefits are worth it. Working on cardiovascular endurance will improve heart health and breathing problems, lifting weights and gaining muscle will aid joint pain and assist with weight loss, and being active overall will improve mental health. Read our blog article How To Encourage Physical Activity in Your Child or Teen for some useful information.
While childhood obesity is a pervasive issue, it isn’t an unsolvable one. By committing your family to lead a healthy lifestyle with sustainable habits in both diet and exercise, childhood obesity can be prevented and reversed in many cases. To learn more about the benefits of exercise for children and teenagers, check out our blog.