Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Prevention of childhood obesity, therefore, needs high priority. The main cause of obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally there has been a change in the quality of food being consumed. It is processed and has high fat and sugar content. This along with physical inactivity from sedentary lifestyle has added to the problem. This problem is more prevalent in the urban setting where availability of high-calorie food is easy.
Some of the main consequences of childhood obesity are:
Cardiovascular diseases: Obese children tend to have high cholesterol and lipid levels and are at risk of developing high blood pressure. Both these factors affect the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. If these risks persist then there are high chances of heart attack and stroke at a younger age.
Diabetes: A hormone called Insulin keeps your blood sugars in the normal range. In obese individuals despite normal levels of insulin, the functioning and effect of this hormone fade (insulin resistance). This phenomenon causes diabetes.
Bone and joint problems: The bones and joints of obese children are constantly bearing the stress of weight. This can lead to problems such as aches and pains.
Sleep and breathing problems: Obese children tend to snore and have breathing difficulties during sleep. Some children keep waking up due to this. Lack of sleep causes poor concentration during daytime academics and other activities.
Social and Psychological issues: Obese children are more likely to experience psychological problems than non-obese children. Girls are at greater risk than boys. Low self-esteem and behavioral problems are commonly associated with obesity.
Prevention and treatment of obesity in childhood has great benefits. Parents should be careful about the diet of their child and promote outdoor games and activities.