Friday, November 30, 2012

Childhood Obesity Can Lead to Adult Health Problems

Childhood obesity is currently receiving a great deal of attention. While obesity in childhood can cause social and health problems during childhood, including ostracism and type ll diabetes, childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems during adulthood. In fact, Obese children are ‘more likely to have heart attack or stroke in adulthood...'

To address childhood obesity, much attention is being given to methods that can motivate children to follow a healthy diet and increase physical activity. However, focusing on the obese child’s family may be the best way to induce a child to engage in activities that lead to a healthy weight.

Indeed “A new study shows that when parents model a healthy lifestyle, that lifestyle is more effective than just talking to teens when it comes to obesity topics…” And an Institute of Medicine study shows that with the right home environment, a child’s defensiveness, associated with being overweight, can be lessened. This lessening of defensiveness combined with family  support and encouragement can greatly increase the child's likelihood of achieving a healthier lifestyle.

Bariatric surgery is sometimes mentioned as an option for dealing with childhood obesity. However, changing the home environment, including lifestyle modifications, to address childhood obesity is a lot less traumatic than bariatric surgery. Further, while bariatric surgery has often proven to be the most effective approach to weight loss, addressing childhood obesity with lifestyle modifications is usually a safer approach to childhood obesity than surgery.

Some forms of bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery, make changes to the internal workings of the body that are virtually irreversible. And these changes could have undesirable consequences in adulthood. Further, certain endocrinologists believe that various forms of weight loss surgery can cause bone loss which could be a problem for a child since a child’s body is not fully developed. So again, non surgical actions seem to be the most appropriate approach to childhood obesity.

By taking actions to address obesity while a child is young, weight loss providers might be even more successful at helping a child maintain a healthy weight. Appropriate action will likely lead to better health in adulthood. And the earlier some action is taken, the better. In fact, “Weight-loss programs can help even very young children slim down, and it appears that acting early may improve the odds of success…”

At any rate, knowing that changes to a  family’s lifestyle can improve a child’s health during childhood and adulthood should give families the motivation to make modifications in the home. And knowing that a family’s lifestyle change can improve a child’s health should give health care providers more ammunition to use in counseling parents who have overweight or obese children.

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