The Dangers of Childhood Obesity in America

First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to bring more awareness and publicity to a serious national epidemic: childhood obesity. More and more children today are appearing to be overweight, lacking exercise, eating unhealthy foods and having more health problems than ever before. But who is to blame? What can be done to help this problem?

With the advent of the internet age and the never-ending popularity of video games, children are the least active they have ever been. In between crushing school schedules and programs, they come home and want to relax which means staying indoors and occupying their time with mindless video games and television. Combined with shorter recesses and lack of physical education in public school systems, children have nowhere to play and form a healthy relationship with exercise.

But the children are not the ones to be blamed. There are more parents in the workforce than ever and because of this children are not receiving the same healthy homemade meals from their exhausted parents. Children are often given frozen dinners or fast food because it is faster to make or they are left to their own devices when making their food choices. And if you as a parent have poor eating and exercise habits, your children will likely follow the same patterns.

But besides finding out who is to blame, what are the dangers of childhood obesity? Obesity is defined as having an excess of body fat in comparison to the size and age of the body. Obesity is a difficult condition for the body to endure and causes a variety of health problems. Obese children make obese adults and obese adults have perilous health conditions to watch out for. Obese children have a greater chance of developing prediabetes and they have bone and joint difficulty from the pressure of that weight on the body’s structures which make exercise even more difficult. Children suffering from obesity can also develop hormonal imbalances or sleep apnea, a condition in which people will stop breathing during their sleep cycle. But perhaps the most difficult side effect of childhood obesity is the psychological impact. Overweight children are often bullied, stigmatized, ridiculed and suffer from low self-esteem and depression, which in turn makes them seek food as a form of satisfaction and happiness, and thus perpetuating the cycle.

As if these conditions were not difficult enough to deal with in childhood, the problems associated with obesity as an adult are even more frightening. Obese people are predisposed to heart disease and the probability of a stroke because of the high platelet count in the bloodstream. They have a greater chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes which can be treated by losing the excess weight. Those that live with obesity also have a much higher chance of developing several types of cancer and osteoarthritis from prolonged stress on the bones and joints.

As a nation, this alarming trend will cost taxpayers as more and more as the population becomes more and more obese and puts a strain on the healthcare system trying to help them. Despite all of this dire information concerning obesity, the one positive part of this condition is that it is conditional, not terminal. With proper diet, exercise or in extreme cases, weight loss surgery, people can fight back against obesity and lead longer, healthier lives.

If you or your child is suffering from obesity, speak to your physician about diet and nutrition plans to help lose weight. Sometimes in the course of a pediatrician evaluating the causes of obesity, an imaging test like ultrasound or CT or even MRI may be ordered. At Doctors Imaging , we have the tools to assist in the diagnosis of endocrine and other medical problems. To schedule an examination or to seek further information, please call 504 883-3555.

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