Childhood obesity: symptoms, causes, complications

Childhood obesity: symptoms, causes, complications

Table of Contents

Childhood obesity is a condition in which the child’s body store unhealthy fat and these fats can cause unhealthy effects on the child’s health and career.

Unfortunately, obesity in children is increasing day by day. Alone in the US one-third child are obese and these numbers are increasing very fast. A 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that childhood obesity in the US has increased the medical costs by $1354 a year (in 2013 dollars rate).

Childhood obesity is a serious threat to child health. Some peoples consider this healthy for children, but this excess body fat can create many health and social problems for children.

This modern world demands less physical activity and provides more food sources. That is one of the reasons for the increasing rate of obesity in children.


Obesity symptoms

BMI is used to determine obesity in children of age two years or older. BMI is determined by the ratio of weight to height. A child with a BMI equal to or greater than the 95th percentile is considered obese.

Not all children who are heavy more than the recommended weight can be considered obese and overweight because some kids have big body frames and muscles as compared to other kids.

High BMI can only help in finding if there is any weight problem but BMI calculation does not make any difference between fat and lean muscles. That is why the US preventive task force has reported that not every child with a high BMI calculation is required to lose weight.


Lack of physical activities and consumption of high calories food is the main cause of child obesity. Genetics and other health issues can also contribute to childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity: symptoms, causes, complications

Risk factors

1.Unhealthy foods

One of the main reasons for child obesity is unhealthy food. Advertisements of unhealthy foods are on peak these days in both developed and underdeveloped countries. That is why fast foods, junk foods, like pizza, soft drinks, burger, ice cream, donuts, these are all largely available in the market. Children often like these foods because these foods have good taste as compared to healthy foods.

If you want to keep obesity away from your children then you need to keep children away from these types of foods.

2.Lack of physical activities

Lack of physical activities is also the reason for obesity in children. 

In this modern world just like other people’s children are also becoming lazy. Most children spend time using modern technology. They watch too much television, use mobiles, and don’t take part in physical activities. That habit can cost badly.

Physical activities are very good for a healthy weight. Without taking part in physical activities a child’s body will not burn calories. Then as a result body starts storing these calories as fat and the child can become obese.


Genes also play important role in obesity. Obesity can run in genes. Most obese children have obese parents. 

One study has found that if both parents are obese then the chances of getting obese for their children can increase by 80 percent. Six to eight-five percentage of obesity in peoples has a link with genetics.

4.Psychological issues

Psychological issues also cause child obesity. With depression and anxiety, children can get eating disorders and they can make it a habit of eating unhealthy, junk food that can make them overweight and they will get obese. With 

With psychological issues, children can avoid taking part in physical activities. That can also cause obesity because physical activities are very essential for a child’s health. Physical activities can help them to burn more calories and with these exercises, they will not get obese. But when they will not take part in any physical activities then they will become obese.

5.Poor sleep

Poor sleep is associated with many health problems. Some studies have shown that poor sleep can clear the path for obesity. Poor sleep can cause hormonal imbalance that can cause obesity.

6.Drugs side effects

Many drug side effects can contribute to weight gain. This drug-induced weight gain can cause or increase the chance of obesity in children. Many drugs like antipsychotics drugs produce side effects that can make the child obese.


Here is how obesity can affect your child health;

Cause diabetes

Obesity can highly increase the risks of diabetes in children. Most health experts believed that obesity can increase 80 to 85 percent of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes in children.

A recent study has found that obese persons are more likely to get diabetes in their life as compared to peoples with normal weight.

Diabetes can cause many problems. This disease is the root of many diseases. Diabetes can make the child’s health worse and can put them in a critical situation. Lifelong care and treatment are required for this disease.

Cause blood pressure problems

High blood pressure is very common in obese peoples and it included children also.

Obesity can cause high blood pressure in children. High fat on the body will force the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. This extra effort can put a strain on a person’s arteries and the risks of getting high blood pressure or hypertension will increase due to this.

High blood pressure is also called a silent killer with no early symptoms. With high blood pressure child will be at serious risks. This disease also required lifetime attention and treatment.

Heart diseases

 Nobody wants to get heart disease and that is the reality. Obesity can make your child’s health worse by contributing to causing heart diseases.

 An obese child is more at risk of developing heart diseases as compared to normal. Obesity can lead to structural and functional changes in the heart which can dangerous results. Due to these changes risks of heart failure or sudden cardiac events can be increased.

The obese person often has high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol level. This can increase the risks of heart diseases like heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.

Studies have found that obese children have carotid arteries that are prematurely aged and have an abnormal level of cholesterol.

Moreover with high blood pressure and diabetes risks of heart diseases can increase many times.

Cause sleep problems

Studies have shown that obese children are more likely to get sleep problems like insomnia, just like other obese peoples.

 Sleep apnea is very common in obese peoples. Obese children can also get sleep apnea and other sleep problems. Without proper treatment of sleep apnea, your child may become vulnerable to many life-threatening diseases.


Obesity can increase the risks of many types of cancer. The international agency of research on cancer(IARC) has identified 13 different cancers that are associated with obesity.

In 2016, 30-35 percent of the peoples from the world who died from cancers were obese. In the US alone 15 to 20 percent of the peoples who died from cancers were obese.

So Obesity can put your child in danger by contributing to developing cancer.

Liver disease

Obesity can affect a child’s liver badly. High fat in the liver can cause fatty liver disease. This disease leads to chronic inflammation and scarring of the liver. A fatty liver can damage a child’s liver and in severe cases, it can lead to liver failure.

Reason for early puberty

Obesity has a link with early puberty in children. Studies have shown that a rapid increase in weight can cause early puberty in children.

Obesity can increase the 80 percent chance of early puberty in girls before the age of 9. Girls who are obese or have no habit of physical activities are more likely to get physically mature earlier.

Can cause an eating disorder

Obese children often have abnormal eating habits. Obese children often have eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia which are mental disorders. This disorder can cause or worsen depression and anxiety in children.

With these disorders, the child-eating habits can become unhealthy and he can get more problems due to this.

Reason for skin infections

Early obesity can cause different types of skin infections in children. The obese child can face skin problems like heat rash, fungal infection, and acne.

Breathing problems

Obesity can cause breathing problems in children. Obesity can increase the risk of asthma in children.

Excess fat put pressure on the chest that makes it difficult for an obese person to breathe. That is why most obese peoples have breathing problems.

Poor physical performance

Obese children often show very poor performance in physical games. They are left behind in physical performance as compared to normal children. That is why they don’t take part in physical activities.

Most of their fellows don’t invite them to sports games due to their performance and size.

Not attractive shape

An attractive body is liked everywhere. A person with an attractive and beautiful body can take many benefits from society.

An obese person’s body shape is not as attractive as a normal person’s shape. And that applies to the child body as well. The obese child faces discrimination from society due to his bad shape.

Most obese children lose many good opportunities in their life due to their shape.

Increase Mortality rate

Most obese children can’t get rid of obesity and they remain obese in whole life. Blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, liver diseases, breathing problems, and many other dangerous diseases have a link to obesity.

Moreover most obese children remain obese in their whole life. With so many diseases associated with child obesity, their mortality rate can increase during adulthood.

Childhood obesity: symptoms, causes, complications

Bad behavior of people

Obese children are often tortured physically and mentally by society. They are bullied by peoples due to their weight and body shape, especially at school by their fellows. That can affect their studies and career.

Obese children also become victims of discrimination and harassment in their own families. This can make the child patient with depression and anxiety.


With healthy foods

If you are a parent of a child then don’t let your child make it a habit of eating unhealthy foods.

By keeping eye on what your child eats where he spends on food and by checking what he eats, you can reduce the chances of obesity for your child.

Make healthy foods in your house. Encourage him/her to eat healthy foods. Parents also need to eat healthy foods because when they will eat unhealthy foods then their child will also eat it automatically and then he or she can make it a habit.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is best in preventing obesity. When a child will take part in physical activities then he will burn his/her excess calories.

If parents want to encourage their children in taking part in physical activities then they must also do some type of physical activity. This thing will encourage the child and he/she will take part in physical activities with full effort.

Parents should also encourage their children to take part in school physical activities. Physical activities at school will help the child to get fit. By taking part in physical activities with his friends a child will more feel happy and will like physical activities more.

Good sleep

When the child will get good and proper sleep then it will become easy for him to stay active and he will take part in physical games with more courage. 

Bad sleep can make him tired and ill. With good sleep, he will get fit and healthy. When he will get good sleep then the risks of hormone imbalance will decrease and his chances of getting obese will decrease.

Visit doctor

Childhood obesity: symptoms, causes, complications

By taking the child for a health checkup at least once a year will be best for your child’s health.

The doctor will check the height and weight of the kid and then the doctor will calculate the kid’s BMI. The doctor will check if there is any significant change. If there is a significant increase in your child’s BMI percentile from the last checkup then your child will be at a high risk of becoming overweight or obese. To face this problem always respect the doctor’s advice and do according to what the doctor says. Doctor advice is best for your child’s health. 

Bottom line

Childhood obesity is a leading problem in the modern world. It can create many problems for the child. Many factors contribute to childhood obesity. And unhealthy foods and lazy life are major contributors to obesity. With healthy foods and physical activities, the risks of childhood obesity can be reduced.

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Rana Muhammad Sarfraz is a 25-year-old writer. He loves to read and write. These are his best hobbies. He has a degree in bachelor in arts. Physically, Rana is in athletic shape. He is a 5ft 10-inch man with brown skin, black hair, and black eyes. Rana’s best friend is his brother Dr. Omer. Who also help him in his work of article writing.

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