Childhood obesity has seen a dramatic rise in the last 20 years. Research shows that obesity affects children in almost the same way it does adults.
o High cholesterol, high level of triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol, and low level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol: a combination of these leads to metabolic syndrome which places a child at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
o Hypertension or high blood pressure: can result in stroke, heart problems, and kidney failure. May cause severe headaches, vomiting, fatigue, breathlessness, and blurred vision or loss of vision.
o Cardiovascular disease: 60% of obese children are at a high risk for heart problems in later life, even if they lose weight as adults.
o Orthopedic problems like bow legs, tibia vara or Blount’s disease, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis. These problems will result in low levels of physical activity, thus leading to more weight gain.
o Sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea: frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. Results in snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns which cause drowsiness, headaches, daytime sleeping, a decrease in concentration levels, behavioral problems, memory defects, and a reduction in stamina. Long-term sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart and lung disease.
o Gastro-intestinal disorders: non-alcoholic liver disease caused by fat deposits in the liver, and gall bladder disease. A small percentage of obese children are at a risk for gastroesophagael reflux and gastric emptying disturbances.
o Polycystic ovary syndrome or Stein-Leventhal syndrome: cysts or boils in the ovaries. Leads to excessive hair growth, acne, early puberty, and irregular menses. Also increase the risk for infertility, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
o Respiratory disorders like asthma and breathlessness during minimal exertion, thus curtailing physical activity.
o Type 2 diabetes: leads to very low or very high levels of blood sugar, and increases a child’s risk for cardiovascular problems like coronary artery disease and narrowing of the arteries, high blood pressure, nerve and kidney damage, skin infections, and osteoporosis.
o Obese children are generally at a higher risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.