Obesity and weight  problems in children aren’t just a matter of appearances. Being overweight drastically lowers a child’s overall welfare, with negative effects and consequences that are on par with severe cases of abuse.  To give you an idea of just how destructive this issue can be to a child’s welfare, let’s take a look at some of the harms that result from childhood obesity.

The psychological effects of obesity

Being inactive, overweight or obese leads to a number of adverse psychological effects, including…

  1. Lower self-esteem.

  2. Much higher rates of sadness, depression, and loneliness.

  3. Impaired memory and decreased cognitive function (i.e., obesity literally makes children dumber).

  4. A higher propensity towards psychological and mood disorders.

  5. Higher rates of chronic stress and/or anxiety, both from psychological causes and as a result of their core biology.

  6. Sexual dysfunction later in life.

  7. A threefold increase in the risk of suicide.

  8. An overall quality of life comparable to that of kids who have cancer.

The social effects of obesity

Children who are overweight and obese…

  1. Are more likely to experience peer problems.

  2. Are teased and bullied more often by peers.

  3. Experience higher rates of social isolation and loneliness.

  4. Face discrimination from others throughout their everyday life.

  5. Experience more stigmatization as a result of being overweight.

The medical harm done to children through childhood obesity & inactive lifestyles

Being inactive, overweight or obese is linked to a number of medical problems, including:

  1. Overweight children experience much higher rates of chronic pain.

  2. They suffer joint breakdown and chronic inflammation throughout their body.

  3. They experience higher rates of accidental injury.

  4. Bone and structural problems occur due to increased weight.

  5. The onset or worsening of asthma, allergies, and other chronic conditions.

  6. Nerve damage throughout the body.

  7. Fluid accumulation inside the skull which leads to brain damage and chronic headaches.

  8. Liver disease and gallstones.

  9. Stomach and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn or GERD.

  10. Heart problems and/or clogged arteries.

  11. The likelihood that being overweight will take many years off their life.

  12. A much higher likelihood of dying prematurely in childhood.

The diminished quality of life that comes with being overweight or obese

    • Heavy kids suffer from decreased mobility; they are less able to run, jump, climb, play, or do other things kids their age normally might do.

    • They must deal with the added stress of dieting or medical regimens.

    • Overweight and obese individuals will have higher costs of living over their lifetime and spend 75% more just on medications alone – a $700,000 difference compared to healthy weight individuals.

    • They earn less on average than a healthy weight person and experience more job discrimination.

    • They miss more work than their healthy-weight peers.

    • They may develop a decreased ability to feel pleasure from everyday experiences in life.

As stated by Dr. Claire McCarthy, M.D., “The consequences of obesity are scary: A higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and orthopedic problems, not to mention social and emotional problems.” She adds: “Let’s stop being insane. There are lives at stake.” (McCarthy, 2010, p. 49) With the exception of perhaps severe emotional neglect and physical abuse that results in death or disability, there are no other types of child abuse or neglect that come close to threatening a child’s wellbeing to such a large degree AND across so many broad measures of their welfare. It is insane that we’ve gotten to this point, and we need to start taking the issue seriously.

– A note to all of our readers –

Before we delve into the consequences of childhood obesity and inactivity, we must state that this information IS NOT intended to further stigmatize those with weight issues, and we are appalled by anyone who might use it to bully, shame, or persecute overweight families or their children. We believe in positive methods of intervention when it comes to EVERY type of disadvantaged environment, and this issue is no exception. It is our goal to see everyone lead full, happy, and healthy lives, and seeing others persecuted or humiliated certainly doesn’t bring us any closer towards achieving that goal, nor does it lead to positive changes. We believe in solving problems through love, not hate.

But the consequences of this issue are serious, and we aren’t going to sugarcoat it. We refuse to pretend it isn’t a serious problem, and won’t ignore the harm done to children simply for fear of offending parents. We hope our readers of all shapes and sizes will understand, and please do not take anything we say as a personal attack. It is certainly not intended as one.

The harmful effects and consequences of childhood obesity.