Childhood obesity has serious short-term and long-term consequences. The effects of poor diet and lowered activity levels do not just affect a child when they are older, they come along with a number of health risks that can shorten life expectancy and evolve into even more serious health problems in the future.
But the effects of childhood obesity are not just health-related. There are psychological and financial effects that can hinder a child’s development and progress both right now and later in life. Just some of the negative impacts of childhood obesity include:
1. Diabetes – Diabetes can be inherited, but it can also develop through poor diet and lack of activity. Obese children have a much higher risk of developing diabetes that children who are not obese. Diabetes is an expensive and chronic illness that can follow a child throughout their entire life. As childhood obesity rates have increased, so have reports of diabetes among these young people.
2. Asthma – Being obese can hinder a child’s ability to breathe properly and may even exacerbate the inflammation that causes asthma. Children who do not get adequate exercise when they are young are also more likely to develop asthma as they age.
3. Skeletal issues – Children that carry extra weight, especially enough extra weight to be classified as obese, put extra strain on their bones. This can create problems in the joints and the in the bones themselves, especially if improper nutrition is the one of the factors that is feeding into the obesity. Depending on the child’s age, obesity can impede proper development of the skeletal system.
4. Eating disorders – Childhood obesity and many of the negative social impacts of obesity can result in eating disorders. This is an issue that is compounded by lowered self-esteem and stigmatization in society.
5. Liver and gallbladder diseases – Many children who struggle with obesity also have issues with their liver and gallbladder. While these might not manifest until later in life, they both have their roots in the poor nutrition and lack of physical activity that also feed into childhood obesity.
6. High blood pressure – High blood pressure, especially for a child, is a serious problem and one that will only worsen as they grow older. Diet greatly affects blood pressure, as does the amount of excess weight that a person carries.