Childhood obesity is not a reference to the pleasantly plump babies or the cherub shaped toddlers. The majority of children will begin life with the plumpness we expect to see in babies. These children will grow taller and will lose their “baby fat” as they begin to walk, run, and be more active.
Children that are considered to be obese are the ones who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) that is greater than 80% is considered to be obese. This means that a child who weighs more than eighty percent of their peers who are of the same height, age, and gender, is overweight.
A lot of people say that it is okay to be overweight before puberty because as a person reaches puberty they will automatically begin to lose the excess pounds. This does happen to some people, but it is not what happens to all people. A youngster that is considered to be obese is 70% more apt to be obese when they become an adult.
The longterm effects of childhood obesity can be broken down into physical and mental effects. The longterm effects of childhood obesity can physically shorten the life expectancy of the individual, and can reduce the quality of life the individual is expected to have. Mentally the obesity can cause great unhappiness in the individual’s life.
Physical Effects caused by Obesity include (but are not limited to):
• Hypertension(high blood pressure)
• Type II Diabetes
• Heart disease such as coronary artery disease
• Gallbladder problems such as gall-stones
• Osteoarthritis (a deterioration of the cartilage and bone that the joints of the body are made of)
• Breast cancer
• Colon cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Liver cancer
• High cholesterol
• Sleep apnea
• Breathing difficulties
• Premature death
• Back pain
• Difficulties in becoming pregnant, problems in menstruation
• Yeast infections
The mental health issues that are caused by excessive amounts of weight include (but are not limited to)
• Low self-esteem
• Mood disorders and suicidal thoughts
Being overweight does not just affect a person’s physical and mental state, it affects their quality of life. Some of the life altering effects of this condition include (but are not limited to):
• An inability to walk without pain and discomfort. This pain and discomfort may include pain in the joints, the back, or difficulty breathing.
• Difficulty finding clothing to fit
• The inability to sit in some chairs. Most chairs that are in public places are designed to hold someone who weighs 250 lbs or less. An obese person may not be able to fit into the chairs in restaurants and waiting rooms.
• Seatbelts in vehicles may not properly fit around the obese individual
• Obese individuals may have to pay for 2 seats on an airplane or a bus when they travel
• They may have difficulties finding bathroom scales that will weigh them
• They are often lonely because of their lack of self-esteem, and their social embarrassment
All of the longterm effects of excessive weight create an increased amount of medical cost in the United States and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control $190.2 billion dollars are spent each year in the United States alone treating obesity related illnesses. That breaks down to being 21% of the money spent each year by the U.S. on medical related issues is money spent because of obesity. The CDC.gov estimates that 14 billion of those dollars are spent treating medical conditions suffered by children who are obese.
The only way for obesity to be stopped is for it to never start. Everyone needs to be concerned about this problem so things will change. Some of the things that could be done to stop this epidemic include (but are not limited to)
• Increased education for parents and guardians
• Changes in foods that are offered at popular restaurants where children frequently eat
• A campaign to promote physical activity for young people and decrease the amount of time they send watching television and playing video games
• Insurance companies that offer reduced rates to families who fit within the proper BMI chart for their ages, genders, and heights
It is going to take a community effort to make the changes necessary to stop this condition from killing so many people prematurely.