Childhood obesity is one of the most serious medical condition that has affected millions of children and adolescents in the 21st century. The problem has been steadily increasing, affecting many countries, particularly in urban settings.
According to WHO, the number of overweight children under the age of five is estimated to be over 41 million globally, while at least 20% of the world’s adolescents younger than 19 years old are considered obese.
There are a variety of factors that lead to children becoming overweight or obese. Some of the most common causes are unhealthy eating habits, little to no physical activity, genetics or a combination of these factors.
One of the best strategies to help reduce childhood obesity worldwide is to improve the family unit’s eating and exercise habits. Children whose parents are struggling with being overweight or obesity are more likely to become obese themselves.
Parent/child interventions are crucial in promoting long-term healthy behaviors within the family. This could start with getting a nutrition coach here in Memphis, Tennessee or any other places to help drive positive behavior changes among overweight or obese adults.
But why is the prevalence increasing so dramatically? There are a number of theories being thrown around about why the rates of obesity have increased at such an alarming rate. But regardless of the factors that have contributed to the problem, the main concern here is that the resulting effects are wreaking havoc on many of these children’s lives.
Obese children face social and emotional side effects almost every day of their lives. What are the Social Effects of Obesity in Children?
Obese Kids Are Targets of Bullying
A study involving 147 elementary school students revealed that normal weight or even overweight children were far less likely to become targets of bullying than obese or severely obese kids. Regardless of sex, race, social skills, academic achievement or even socioeconomic status, obese children are more likely to fall victims of bullying.
In a body-conscious society, even a well-adjusted and confident obese kid can suffer from self-esteem issues. Bullies can easily sense these vulnerabilities and are more than willing to exploit them. And even though the rate of obese children has grown significantly over the past 20 years, making overweight and obesity in kids seem normal, the prevalence of bullying has still not decreased.
Obese Children Display Poor Social Skills and Academic Performance
Obese children face a slew of potential health problems as they get older. This includes increased risks of heart attacks, diabetes and certain cancers. As if that weren’t enough, obese children are also found to develop poor social skills as well as poorer academic performance.
The social stigmatization that obese children feel leads to self-esteem issues, which in turn leads to poor social skills and academic performance. This then leads to more social stigmatization. The cycle is continuous.
Low self-esteem supplemented by poor performance at school and in social situations often leads to depression. One study published in the Clinical Pediatrics shows that approximately 25% to 35% of obese children who join a weight management program is clinically depressed.
Symptoms of child depression include unhealthy attitudes towards eating, sedentary behavior and sleep problems.
These emotional side effects are similar to cancer for obese children. Moreover, obesity puts kids at risk for medical problems that can affect them now or in the future. As adults, preventing kids from becoming overweight and from suffering from social stigmatization means making healthy lifestyle choices that starts within the family.