Children who are inactive, overweight or obese are also prone to developing a number of smaller, everyday symptoms that will significantly lower their quality of life and can even lead to debilitating medical problems. As Stovitz et al. (2008, p. 489) state, “physicians are increasingly recognizing that obese children experience considerable metabolic comorbidities” (doctor speak that essentially means, “they have lots of co-existing problems.”). Here are some of the symptoms that can emerge:

Chronic inflammation
Medical studies have long documented a relationship between excess fat and chronic inflammation in the body. So it’s no surprise that obese children have been noted to have higher measures on biomarkers of inflammation. (Cruz et al., 2005) This inflammation can cause an assortment of health problems, making them more susceptible to everyday illnesses and aggravating pre-existing illnesses such as asthma or chronic joint pain.

Scientist and medical Doctor Wajahat C. Nehal (2015, p. 48-49) observed that “eating too much in one sitting will trigger an acute episode of inflammation that eventually resolves itself, and routinely eating so many calories that the body has to store them as fat triggers chronic inflammation.” Cronic inflamation, in turn, inflames the liver, which can lead to fatty liver disease. The liver becomes swollen and inflamed, identical to what you’d see in a chronic drinker. Though reversible, it can lead to permanent problems, including cirrhosis – which is a potentially fatal condition. “That finding is disturbing enough,” Nehal writes, “but adding to the concern is the realization that as much as a third of obese children now have fatty liver disease. This pattern raises the possibility that at least some of them will fall ill with cirrhosis in early adulthood. It is as though large numbers of preteens were suffering from alcohol and liver disease, except the offending agent is excess calories, not alcohol.”

Symptoms related to hypertension
Aside from the future risk in terms of heart attacks, hypertension can cause physical problems for children in the here and now. This can include headaches and, in more extreme cases, chest pain, blurred vision, and seizures. (Mahoney, 2012)

Heartburn & stomach problems
It’s been found that obese adults are 2 1/2 times more likely to experience heartburn. (Gorman, 2012) While this condition is less prevalent among kids, obese children can also suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal disorders as a result of their excess weight and poor eating habits.

Medical Regimens
What was so shocking about the AAP’s recommendation to administer statins for children as young as 8 is the fact that these drugs, like all drugs, are not without their ‘potentially’ dangerous side effects. Children who develop diabetes are subjected to daily shots and medications. The cumulative effect of all these medical regimens can take a lot out of a child.

Headaches
Overweight kids are more prone to headaches, and research has shown that losing weight can cut the number of headaches a child experiences in half. (Elias, 9-17-08)

Restless Leg Syndrome
Obesity has been linked to restless leg syndrome (Marcus, 4-7-09)

Decreased Lung Functioning
Fat deposits in obese children hinder lung function, since it applies more pressure to the lungs and inhibits expansion. (National Geographic Channel, 8-14-09) This makes any type of physical activity more strenuous.

Dental Problems
Dentist’s report that bad diet is leading to dental erosion at unprecedented levels. Bennet Amaechi, a dental researcher at the University of Texas, has found 30% of kids show dental erosion, and some have teeth so bad they resemble that of older adults. (Painter, 4-7-08)

Vision & coordination problems
Inactive lifestyles are also leading to vision and coordination poblems at rates unlike anything ever seen. (Toppo, 6-4-08) Too much time in front of the TV or computer and not enough time paying outdoors means the eyes of too many kids aren’t getting the action and diversity they need to develop properly.

Bone and structural problems
Obesity leads to an increase in foot and knee problems, and obese children exhibit a variety of biomechanical changes in their lower extremities. (Stovitz et al., 2008) In other words, the excess weight has a tendency to deform their lower body and lead to abnormal growth and development.

Flattened arches often develop during childhood and are more common in overweight children. This in turn leads to inflamed tendons, sore heels, and may further restrict a child’s activity, leading to a self-replicating cycle: the pain makes them not want to engage in physical activity, and the lack of physical activity only means more weight gain and less bone-strengthening, which makes the pain worse.

It can also result in all sorts of other intrusive procedures that attempt to put band-aids over the condition rather than treat the underlying problem. As surgeon Darryl Haycock laments, “I have kids come in all the time pushing 180 to 200 pounds…and I’m doing surgery to correct their flat feet.” (Painter, 6-21-2010)

See also…