(HealthNewsDigest.com) – It is estimated that 1 in 6 kids in the US weighs too much but few pediatricians recommend intervention. Some may not feel they have the resources or they may be dealing with an entire family that is overweight, making weight control a delicate issue to address. Sadly, for overweight kids, if the issue is not addressed in childhood their future health is at serious risk and their lifespan may be compromised.
A lifetime weight loss struggle often leads to a lonely, isolated existence that shortchanges a person of many of the normal pleasures of life. When weight gets out of control, a person, especially a young teen, may find many social opportunities are compromised and activities that their friends can engage in like hiking, sports, bike riding, or skiing may be difficult or impossible for them. Dates and opportunities to attend social functions may become limited. In addition to the social concerns, carrying too much weight from a young age causes health issues.
Sedentary activities – Kids love to watch TV and play computer games and it is hard to limit this behavior. But the act of sitting, especially in front of the TV seems to be a major risk factor for weight gain. We are learning that not all seated activities are created equally. Sitting in school or while learning does not have the same impact as TV or computer games. It may be that these seated activities also provide an opportunity to snack, whereas a classroom setting does not.
Heart disease – A person’s current weight is a strong predictor of having a heart attack, but your risk of heart failure is more strongly associated with your weight over the last 30 years. The weight you carry in childhood and adolescence is the strongest predictor of heart failure in middle age. Weight by itself does not cause heart failure but additional weight puts a person at risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unfavorable blood fats, all of which in turn increase the risk for heart disease.
Bone health – Excess weight in childhood and adolescence may affect bone structure. During the teen years we lay down our peak bone mass, so any bone lost at this time will create problems in the future. A lean, muscular body builds trabecular bone density, volume and integrity. This type of bone, the inner layer, provides support and is flexible. Cortical bone is the outer layer and it should be dense and compact. Fat causes cortical bone to become more porous. Fat secretes substances that promote chronic inflammation which in turn stimulates the formation of osteoclasts which are the cells that resorbs or breaks down bone. In addition, vitamin D, needed for proper bone formation is fat soluble and gets trapped in fat cells and is not available for bone growth. Children with too little muscle and too much fat are at risk for a weakened bone structure that cannot be fixed later in life.
Cancer risk – As the rate of obesity has increased over the last 40 years so has the rate of 6 of the 12 cancers related to obesity and the occurrence of these cancers are happening earlier in life. The risk for colorectal, uterine, pancreas and gallbladder cancers in millennials is almost double the rate that baby boomers experienced at the same age. It is predicted that the risk for many cancers will increase and occur earlier as younger overweight people start to reach adulthood. Some experts feel the increasing number of overweight individuals may halt or reverse the progress that has been made treating cancer over the past several decades.
High blood pressure – Both prehypertension and hypertension are among the ten top chronic diseases in childhood but they are also the most common underdiagnosed conditions in children ages 3 to 18. A study out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that only 23% of kids with high blood pressure were diagnosed and only 10% of kids with symptoms of prehypertension were diagnosed. Children with high blood pressure may show signs of heart disease very early which can compromise their health and shorten their life.
If the current trend continues, 60% of the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2030. To slow down or begin reversing this trend it is important to start healthy habits early.
© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of 30 books. Available as eBooks from iTunes and Kindle/Amazon:
Diabetes Counter – the most up-to-date information on managing diabetes
Calorie Counter – a weight loss guide that won’t let you down
Protein Counter – put the latest protein recommendations to work for you
Healthy Wholefoods Counter – planet-friendly eating made easy
Complete Food Counter – food counts and nutrition information at your fingertips
Fat and Cholesterol Counter – newest approach to heart-healthy eating
Available in print from Gallery Books:
Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd Ed.
Your Complete Food Counter App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-complete-food-counter/id444558777?mt=8
For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to: www.TheNutritionExperts.com