Obesity is something an increasing amount of Americans are struggling with today. It is one of the most important health concerns in the country today, and both politicians, social scientists, and health experts have used various means of addressing the problem. One of the most difficult parts of obesity to deal with is when it already occurs in childhoods. While a variety of causes can be identified for this, few have truly been able to address the problem in a way that truly discourages obesity in children. One potential way to handle this is to investigate the various effects of obesity on young children and publish these not only as a deterrent, but also as a way to help young children understand the importance of a healthier lifestyle, since obesity in childhood could often lead to obesity in adulthood. Obesity in children is an important health concern and can be caused by various factors; it can also have various effects on children and their psychological and physical health, including a variety of current and future health risks, which means that serious steps need to be taken to mitigate it.
In their study, Marcus and Baron (n.d.) found that childhood obesity can be caused by a number of factors. These include genetics, nutrition, physical activity, and family factors. An important component related to the causes of childhood obesity is the fact that there probably is not one singular cause for the condition, but rather that it is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics. This is what makes it so difficult to address; if the problem is not addressed with all these causative areas in mind, it is less likely that the obesity program would in fact be effective. It is therefore vital to address the various causes of childhood obesity to form a global image of these factors and to determine ways to mitigate the condition. It is also, however, important to study the various effects of childhood obesity on children themselves to gain an understanding of their experiences with the condition in terms of both their physical and psychological health.
Obesity in childhood carries many health risks, not only in the current context, but also for the future of the child in question. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), for example, current health risks for children with obesity include conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, which could lead to cardiovascular disease. Research suggests that 70% of all obese children carry at least one CVD risk factor, while 39% have two or more. There is also an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes since the glucose tolerance in the body is affected by obesity and long-term unhealthy eating habits. Other physical problems include breathing problems, joint problems, and fatty liver disease, with associated conditions such as gallstones and gastro-esophageal reflux. In the long-term, these children are also more likely to suffer from social and psychological problems, which, like their obesity, can continue into adulthood.
According to Chaput and Tremblay (2006, p. 1), both physical and psychological problems resulting from obesity could have dire long-term effects on the development of children. First, the authors suggest that obesity and social problems have an exacerbating and perpetuating influence upon each other. Children who are obese, for example, tend to experience social bias from their peers and even from the general population, which could lead to social isolation and psychological effects such as depression. This, in turn, could lead to an urge to turn to unhealthy foods for the comfort that is lacking in social friendships and connections. In other words, children who suffer from obesity suffer from resultant social and psychological problems, to which they react by using food as a coping mechanism. I the long-term, these social and psychological effects lodge themselves so deeply in children that they become part of the adult lifestyle as well, which in turn leads to early morbidity for individuals and collective social and economic effects such as overburden on the health system.
For these reasons, it is vital that the condition be addressed in childhood already. Helping children to overcome or at least mitigate their obesity levels will lead to both greater physical and psychological health. According to Macnair (2009), parents themselves can take action and help their children to begin leading…