A recent study says that obese kids are at greater risk of suffering from emotional problems, suggesting a close link between obesity and mental health.
New Delhi: Childhood overweight or obesity is a serious health problem that has reached epidemic levels in many parts of the world, including India. It can have both immediate and long-term health consequences. According to a recent study, obese kids are at greater risk of suffering from emotional problems, suggesting a close link between obesity and mental health.
The study found that obese kids, as young as 7-year-olds, tend to develop mental health problems such as anxiety and feelings of low mood. The findings, presented at the European Congress on Obesity, also showed that girls tend to have higher BMIs and more emotions problems compared to boys.
The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, suggested that obesity and emotional problems were likely to develop hand-in-hand in childhood, from the age of seven. However, the link wasn’t apparent in younger children, said the study.
“People think it’s as simple as eating less and exercising more – but it’s much more complex than that. Obesity and emotional problems are intertwined,” said Dr Charlotte Hardman, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Liverpool.
The Liverpool researchers said poverty was likely to increase the risk of both problems, although they didn’t look at causes.
Health consequences of childhood obesity
Obesity during childhood can result in serious physiological and psychological difficulties, including –
- High blood pressure and cholesterol, which are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Asthma, sleep apnoea, and breathing problems
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Bone fractures
- Psychological problems such as anxiety, depression
- Low self-esteem
- Social problems like bullying and stigma
- Behavior and learning problems
Additionally, obese kids are more likely to stay obese into adulthood.
Childhood obesity: What you can do about it
As parents, there are many things you can do to help your child maintain a healthy weight or overcome obesity. These include:
- Providing your child with plenty of whole foods – fruits and vegetables
- Limiting your child’s consumption of sugar-sweetened foods or avoiding them
- Encouraging them to make healthier foods choices while limiting eating out
- Limiting sedentary screen time to no more than 1 hour, especially if your child is less then 5 years of age
- Making physical activity and exercise as part of daily routine
- Ensuring your child gets enough sleep every night
It is recommended that parents should ensure that their child sees the doctor for well-child checkups at least once a year.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.