What are the long-term effects of childhood obesity?
With South Carolina having one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation, parents and adult caregivers need to fully understand the dangers of childhood obesity* and the long term effects it can have on a child’s health.
Being overweight or obese as a child can cause a host of physical and mental conditions that include the following:
- Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than children with normal weight. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem — effects of which can last well into adulthood.
- Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being reported among children who are overweight. Onset of diabetes in children can lead to heart disease and kidney failure. Sadly, S.C. ranks 10th highest in the nation in the percent of population with diabetes — with 1 in 8 African-Americans having the disease.
- Children with obesity also have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol than their normal weight peers. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of children who were overweight had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 25% had two or more CVD risk factors.
- Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.
As a parent or adult caregiver, there are many things you can do to help prevent your child from being overweight or obese. Begin helping your child maintain a healthy weight by balancing the calories a child consumes along with the amount of calories that are burned through physical activity and normal growth.
Always keep in mind that the goal for children who are overweight is to reduce weight gain while also allowing for normal growth and development. And remember that a child should never be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.
To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits, the CDC recommends you:
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
For more tips on how to help your child maintain a healthy weight, visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html or
*The difference between obesity and being overweight comes down to Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Overweight is defined as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team on March 10, 2020