The Connection Between Childhood Obesity and Bullying

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic within the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic, childhood obesity is, “a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.”

Childhood obesity currently boasts some scary statistics, with almost 60% of children in America being classified as obese. Childhood obesity studies also reveal the fact that 40% of obese children and 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults. By the time an obese child turns six years old, his/her chance of becoming an obese adult is over 50%.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), children who are overweight are more likely to be at risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Obese children (not just adults) also have a higher risk of bone and joint problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and arthritis. Children who are obese may also suffer from a range of serious psychological problems including depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem. With cyber bullying becoming more prevalent, studies have begun to examine the link between childhood obesity and bullying. But could bullying be one of the reasons these children are overweight to begin with?

The Link between Bullying and Obesity

Playground taunts may seem like harmless child’s play, but bullying may keep overweight children off the playground, making it more difficult for them to shed pounds. Most kids are bullied at some point in their lives, but overweight children are more often the targets of bullies. A University of Florida study reveals that frequent bullying leads children who become victims to avoid situations where they have been picked on before, such as gym class or at afterschool sporting events. Aside from causing those being bullied to avoid events where they might be teased, bullying is also linked to depression and loneliness. Overweight kids who could benefit from sports and regular exercise are often discouraged from doing so as a result of being taunted or teased. The problem is if kids are avoiding physical education class or sports out of fear of being bullied, their health is greatly being affected.

What Should Parents Know?

Understanding the link between bullying and long-term psychological and physical health problems in children is essential. When a child is overweight or obese, parents should understand that these boys and girls are at an increased risk of being bullied and at risk for future health problems. Recognizing the signs of bullying in a child is an important step in breaking the chain of negative outcomes. Some signs to be aware of include; increased stress, depression, and submissive behavior. The best way to approach the growing problem of bullying in overweight children is to help fight obesity in your children.

Worried about your child’s weight? You can do more than just nag him or her about eating too much junk food. Implementing healthy family habits may help:

Control Portions

It’s no wonder that obesity in children is on the rise when you see the servings of food considered normal. Prepare smaller servings or have children share between one or two others. Encourage kids to eat slower. Perhaps engage them in conversation over the meal so they slow down their intake. Eating at a slower pace, allows the brain time to receive the message from the stomach that it is in fact full.

What About Snacks?

Let’s face it; kids can be bottomless pits when it comes to satisfying their appetites. It may seem difficult at first, but keeping the junk food out of the house is a good place to start! Start healthy habits at home. When kids are hungry enough, they’ll eat what’s available, so make their choices healthier.

No More Couch Potatoes

Activity is the name of the game! TV, computer and video games, although sometimes unavoidable can contribute to obesity in children. If they don’t want to go outside and play, or do sports, then compromise and put in video games that are activity oriented (like Wii sports for instance). Obesity in children is a huge problem and requires the attention of those people who are responsible for their care. Bullying can have negative effects on overweight children. Negative attitudes toward exercise can last a lifetime, making it more difficult for these overweight children to lose weight and make it easier for them to become obese adults.

Bullying is unacceptable and parents need to be actively involved to ensure that the issue is handled properly. Fighting childhood obesity and bullying starts with you. What will you do to ensure your child is healthy and bully free?

By Alexa Dagostino | Submitted On February 22, 2011

This article was written by Alexa D’Agostino, a representative of Focus28 Diet which is a High Protein Diet [] and the fastest and easiest diet to lose weight [] in 2011

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