8 Diseases Related to Childhood Obesity

24 June, 2020
Did you know that childhood obesity can be a trigger for other diseases? Beyond affecting their self-esteem, it influences other conditions that can affect their quality of life.

It has been estimated that 18.5% of children suffer from obesity, according to data from the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) published in RTVE. However, beyond being overweight, did you know that there are many diseases related to childhood obesity?

Read on to discover how obesity can affect your child’s health.

Childhood obesity in the world

Overall, the WHO has been warning everyone for several years about the high prevalence of childhood obesity throughout the world. In fact, it’s considered one of the main public health problems of the current century. However, what exactly is childhood obesity?

Essentially, this refers to an accumulation of excessive fat in the body. Therefore, the child weighs much more than the weight considered healthy for his or her age and height. In fact, if you suspect that your child is overweight or even obese, see your pediatrician for an examination.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) is a globally accepted indicator to assess whether a child is overweight or obese.

Diseases related to childhood obesity

Beyond aesthetics, fat buildup can lead to diseases that doctors considered “adult” in the past. Below, we’ll tell you what health problems can affect obese children.

1. Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a type of diabetes that’s acquired. Therefore, it’s not congenital. Every time we eat food, the pancreas releases insulin to separate the glucose from the ingested sugars and thus provide nutrients to the cells.

The problem occurs when excess food causes the pancreas to work too much. Because of this, over time the insulin-producing cells can die and that’s how type 2 diabetes develops.

According to data from a study published in 2017 in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, there is a clear link between obesity and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children.

Childhood diabetes is one of the diseases related to childhood obesity.
Obese children are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a disorder characterized by a considerable increase in blood glucose levels.

2. Diseases related to childhood obesity: High blood pressure

Various studies have concluded that excess weight increases blood pressure, which can cause hypertension in children. This increase in tension could lead to long-term cardiovascular problems. For this reason, doctors usually recommend a healthy and balanced diet for weight loss, as well as an exercise plan.

3. High cholesterol

Plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to narrowing of the arteries. The biggest complication of this situation is that if the arteries get clogged it could lead to a heart attack or even a stroke.

Also discover: Childhood Obesity, a Big Problem

4. Self-esteem problems and depression

Children can be cruel: the bullying that appears in the newspapers every week is proof of this. Unfortunately, an obese child can be the victim of all kinds of comments that affect his or her self-esteem and, in the worst case, cause serious childhood depression.

5. Diseases related to childhood obesity: Metabolic syndrome

This syndrome encompasses different health problems that affect the body holistically. In fact, children with it experience hypertension, low good cholesterol, high triglycerides, and even glucose intolerance. Additionally, it’s worth noting that this intolerance can lead to type 2 diabetes over time.

A balanced diet and regular exercise are important to avoid the diseases related to childhood obesity.
Kids with childhood obesity can develop diseases that are grouped as metabolic syndrome. If it isn’t controlled, it can affect their quality of life.

6. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Another of the diseases related to childhood obesity is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This happens when fat accumulates slowly in the liver because the liver isn’t able to process it properly. The main risk is that liver cell damage can occur.

You might be interested in: Fun Exercises to Fight Childhood Obesity

7. Eating disorders

Excess weight and obesity in children can generate low self-esteem, as we have already seen, and push the child towards anorexia or bulimia in a desperate attempt to lose weight.

8. Asthma

Finally, some research indicates that the inflammatory processes caused by obesity could trigger asthma symptoms by disrupting children’s airways.

Keep in mind

These are the main diseases related to childhood obesity. However, they aren’t the only ones: sleep apnea and a pattern of restless sleep are two other possible complications of obesity.

If you suspect that your child is over a healthy weight, don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician. They’re the best option to diagnose the condition and give you healthy eating and exercise guidelines for your child.

  • NCBI. (2017). Obese children with fatty liver: Between reality and disease mongering. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5743498/
  • NCBI. (2017). Obesity-Related Hypertension in Children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622310/
  • Healthy Children. El desgaste emocional de la obesidad. https://www.healthychildren.org/spanish/health-issues/conditions/obesity/paginas/the-emotional-toll-of-obesity.aspx
  • NCBI. (2014). Elevated Blood Pressure and Obesity in Childhood: A Cross-Sectional Evaluation of 4,609 Schoolchildren. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4193071/
  • NCBI. (2017). Asthma and Obesity in Children Are Independently Associated with Airway Dysanapsis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741591/
  • Revista Clínica de Medicina de Familia. Obesidad Infantil y Asma: ¿Una relación de causa y consecuencia? http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1699-695X2011000200007