News | Published January 21, 2013

Immediate consequences of childhood obesity

Obesity has become such a prevalent problem for children in the United States. The numbers are staggering: 20-30 percent of our children are considered obese. Recent statistics show that one-quarter to one-third of children in Centre County are considered obese.

A new study, completed by researchers at UCLA, aims to find out the short-term implications of childhood obesity – a shift from research done regarding the long-term health consequences of childhood obesity on adult conditions.

Researchers report that “…obese children were more likely than those who were classified as not overweight to have reported poorer health; more disability; a greater tendency toward emotional and behavioral problems; higher rates of grade repetition, missed school days, and other school problems; ADHD; conduct disorder; depression; learning disabilities; developmental delays; bone, joint and muscle problems; asthma; allergies; headaches; and ear infections.”

“This study paints a comprehensive picture of childhood obesity, and we were surprised to see just how many conditions were associated with childhood obesity,” said lead author Neal Halfon, MD, a professor of pediatrics, public health and public policy at UCLA, where he directs the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities. “The findings should serve as a wake-up call to physicians, parents and teachers, who should be better informed of the risk for other health conditions associated with childhood obesity so that they can target interventions that can result in better health outcomes.”

As pediatricians, we look at such a large group of our patients dealing with this issue and we want to figure out how we can help these kids. It isn’t easy. Any of us who have ever tried to diet and lose weight know how challenging it is. Despite these challenges, it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these children.