How Childhood Obesity Affects Our Keiki

In Hawaii, eating is often a social activity that brings family and friends together. But overeating can cause problems for people of all ages, including our keiki. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported in 2016 that 13.4 percent of adolescents are obese. That may not sound alarming, but childhood obesity can have lasting effects. We hear a lot about the physical effects of obesity, but the psychological effects can be even more difficult for kids. Here are a few ways childhood obesity is affecting our keiki and how we can turn it around.

Low Self-Esteem and Negative Body Image. Being teased about their weight often leads kids to feel bad about themselves. If their body size is a topic of conversation among their family and friends, they could feel self-conscious or even ashamed. Obese children might compare themselves to leaner children, basing their self-worth on what they look like. Low self-esteem can hinder social and academic endeavors, and persist into adulthood.

Bullying. Bullying comes in many forms. Whether it’s name calling, spreading rumors, or even causing physical harm, bullying can have an enduring impact on children. A study by Health.com reports that obese children are 65 percent more likely to be bullied than their average weight peers. In addition, a high Body Mass Index increases children’s risk of victimization and bullying. Whether the child is being bullied or bullying others, the consequences can be harmful to his or her psyche.

Depression and Behavioral Problems. Adolescence can be tough for any child, but obese children may also develop anxiety and depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, overweight kids tend to have more anxiety and inferior social skills. These disadvantages can detrimentally affect a child’s performance in school and later, in their professional life.

Childhood obesity is serious, but parents can make small changes that have a big impact on their child’s health. Parents can encourage healthy eating habits and remove high-calorie, low-nutrient temptations. You can help kids stay active and reduce sedentary time. Preparing and eating healthy meals and going for walks around the neighborhood can be a fun family activity. Remember to always check with your pediatrician before making any drastic changes.