Approximately 17% or 12.7 million of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese. The main causes of obesity or excess weight in children are individual causes such as genetics and behavior. Behaviors can include dietary pattern, physical activity or inactivity and medication use. Additional contributing factors include the food and physical activity environment.
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease. 70% of obese children had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor.
- Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- Breathing problems such as asthma
- joint problems and discomfort
- liver disease, gallstones, and heartburn
- and psychological stress such as depression and low self-esteem
Healthy behaviors include a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity. Energy balance of the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories the body uses for activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain. A healthy diet pattern emphasizing eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products and drinking water can decreases obesity and reduce risk of disease factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is also recommended that children maintain at least 60 minutes physical activity every day also to reduce disease and obesity factors such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
As a child matures, later health risks include a number of more serious conditions which include heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer. People who are obese are at increased risk for serious health conditions and diseases including:
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high level of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis or a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Some cancers such as endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver
- Low quality of life
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
Article Reference: Childhood obesity causes and consequences