Health Problems and Childhood Obesity
What are the health risks for children who are overweight or obese?
Doctors and scientists are concerned about the rise of obesity in children and teens because obesity may lead to the following health problems:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Social discrimination
Obese children may experience immediate health consequences which can lead to weight-related health problems in adulthood. Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a sample of 5-to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor and 25% of overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors. In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults.
Stigma and Self-Esteem
In addition to suffering from poor physical health, overweight and obese children can often be targets of early social discrimination. The psychological stress of social stigmatization can cause low self-esteem which, in turn, can hinder academic and social functioning, and persist into adulthood. While research is still being conducted, there have been some studies showing that obese children are not learning as well as those who are not obese. Further, physical fitness has been shown to be associated with higher achievement.
Learn more about health problems associated with childhood obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent website.