Childhood obesity is a complex health issue that occurs when a child’s weight is above what is healthy for their age and height. It is defined by excess body fat. As such, the effects of excess weight can lead to chronic health issues and diseases. Obesity is not just about appearance. Most people are in the dark about the diseases that can be caused by obesity. In the US, about 112,000 deaths are directly related to obesity. This article will give you a detailed look into diseases that children with obesity may suffer from if they do not make a few healthy changes.
- Insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition where insulin gradually becomes ineffective in transporting glucose into the cells. Fat cells are more insulin resistant than muscle cells, and people with obesity have more fat cells than normal. Initially, as the cells become more insulin resistant, the pancreas responds by producing more insulin. Insulin resistance is characterized by normal blood sugar levels and high insulin levels, and this can last for years because the pancreas keeps producing more insulin even though the cells are insulin resistant. However, as time goes by, the pancreas fails to produce high levels of insulin; and the level of blood sugar increases, thus leading to Type 2 Diabetes. Insulin resistance is therefore considered to be a pre-diabetes condition.
- Type 2 Diabetes
As a child continues to be obese, the risk of Type 2 Diabetes increases. Type 2 Diabetes is especially common among people who have central obesity, i.e. people who have excess fat around their waist. Type 2 Diabetes is hard to detect in its early stages, but some symptoms include increased feelings of thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, headaches, and sores that take too long to heal.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is common among obese adults. This is caused by excess weight, which tends to increase blood pressure. Hypertension is characterized by high pressure in the arteries and vessels. According to the American College of Cardiology, blood pressure below 120/80 is normal, blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated, and blood pressure of 130/80 and above is high. Hypertension is a major public problem that can cause heart disease, renal disease, arteriosclerosis (hardened arteries), eye damage, and brain damage (stroke). High blood pressure can be treated by eating less salt, reducing cholesterol intake, and eating potassium-rich foods such as spinach, bananas, oranges, and zucchini.
Hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol is the presence of high cholesterol levels in the blood. It usually puts people at risk to suffer from premature arteriosclerosis, which includes coronary artery disease with heart attacks at a very early age. It can be treated with medication that reduces cholesterol levels or by adhering to a diet that has very low cholesterol.
A stroke or brain attack occurs when part of the brain loses its blood supply and stops to work, which leads to the part of the body that the hurt part of the brain controls ceasing to work. A stroke can be caused by hemorrhaging in the brain or loss of blood supply. It can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy food, and regular exercise.
- Heart attack
According to a Finnish study, every Kilo gained in body weight increases the risk of death by coronary artery disease by 1%. A heart attack is caused by a blood clot that ultimately prevents a coronary artery from supplying blood to the heart, and the heart dies. The clot is usually due to a rupture on the inner part of the artery, and it is quite prevalent among people who are obese. However, heart attacks can be prevented by eating foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, taking multi-vitamins which have generous amounts of cholesterol, regular workouts, excellent control of blood sugar and blood pressure, and maintaining a low saturated fat diet.
- Congestive heart failure
This is a chronic progressive condition that affects how your heart pumps blood. Most commonly, it is referred to as heart failure. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart failure because it causes changes in the cardiac morphology and ventricular function which alongside conditions such as sleep apnea, hypertension, and hypoventilation (which are common among people with diabetes) may lead to congestive heart failure.
Obesity has been scientifically proven to be a common cause of cancer of the colon, cancer of the rectum, cancer of the gallbladder, cancer of the uterus, and prostate cancer. In postmenopausal women, obesity can cause breast cancer because fat tissue is essential in the production of estrogen and a lot of exposure to high levels of estrogen increases the chances of getting breast cancer.