Health Risks Linked to Obesity
Posted on November 25th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera            London

If it’s mostly around your stomach (the “apple” shape), that may be riskier than if you have a “pear” shape, meaning that your extra weight is mostly around your hips and buttocks. Back home some people call it Rabada”. The health risks of obesity are applicable to adults and children not just for children or adults only.

A few changes demand for food away from home

Next they ask what has changed in children’s environment over the past three decades to upset this energy balance equation. In particular, they examine changes in the food market, in the built environment, in schools and child care settings, and in the role of parents paying attention to the timing of these changes.

Among the changes that affect children’s energy intake are the increasing availability of energy dense, high-calorie foods and drinks through schools. A host of factors have also contributed to reductions in energy expenditure. In particular, children today seem less likely to walk to school and to be traveling more in cars than they were during the early 1970s, perhaps because of changes in the built environment. Finally, children spend more time viewing television and using computers that means becoming Couch potatoes”. When a person takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television then the person becomes a couch potato.

Not one factor for Childhood obesity

Anderson and Butcher find no one factor that has led to increases in children’s obesity. Rather, many complementary changes have simultaneously increased children’s energy intake and decreased their energy expenditure. The challenge in formulating policies to address children’s obesity is to learn how best to change the environment that affects children’s energy balance.

According to Public Health of England

Obese children are more likely to be ill, be absent from school due to illness, experience health-related limitations and require more medical care than normal weight children. Overweight and obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, and have a higher risk of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in adulthood. The potential health related problems in children due to childhood obesity are the most concerned reasons to be aware of the obesity in children.

The health risks of childhood obesity

According to diabetics UK, Type 2 diabetes usually appears in adults, but recently more children in the UK are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven. A surveillance programme of children under 17 in the UK found that 95% of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were overweight and 83% obese.

 Type 2 diabetes

Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. You can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and exercising more. If you have type 2 diabetes, losing weight and becoming more physically active can help control your blood sugar levels.  Becoming more active may also reduce your need for diabetes medication. For example if one takes insulin, the amount of insulin injected can be reduced and any tablets such as glipizide may be reduced.

Asthma and sleep apnoea

A recent meta-analysis concluded that overweight and obese children are at a 40-50% increased risk of asthma compared to normal weight children. In the US, analysis of data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) showed that 19.7% of children aged 10–17 with asthma were obese compared to 12.2% of children without a chronic condition. According to Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, there is childhood obesity and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) among obese children and adolescents could be as high as 60%. Sleep apnoea is a breathing condition that’s linked to being overweight. This condition can cause a person to snore heavily and to briefly stop breathing during sleep. The same condition may cause daytime sleepiness and make heart disease and stroke more likely. Weight loss often improves sleep apnoea.

Cardiovascular disease CVD

In the Bogalusa Heart Study in the US, 70% of obese 5-17 year olds were found to have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) for example high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and abnormal glucose tolerance. Extra weight makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Both of those conditions make heart disease or stroke more likely.

The good news is that losing a small amount of weight can reduce your chances of developing heart disease or a stroke. Losing 5%-10% of your weight is proven to lower your chance of developing heart disease.

Emotional and behaviour problems

Some children behave as if they have ants in the pants”. Recent findings from the Millennium Cohort Study suggest that childhood obesity may be associated with emotional and behavioural problems from a very young age, with obese boys at particular risk. There are conflicting views on the association between obesity and depression or low self-esteem in children. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that by adolescence, there is increased risk of low self-regard and impaired quality of life in obese individuals. Among other problems there are factors associated with mental health problems in obese children include lower levels of physical activity, low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and weight-based teasing.

Musculoskeletal pain

According to studies in London then in Australia found that Excess weight can lead to increased stress on the musculoskeletal system. The most common orthopaedic problems in children include tibia vara (Blount’s Disease) and slipped capital femoral epiphysis resulting from the impact of increased weight on the developing skeletal system. Musculoskeletal pain was found to be significantly higher in overweight children than in normal weight children. Ankle and foot problems were significantly more common in overweight and obese children compared with normal weight children. Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that most often affects the knee, hip, or back. Carrying extra pounds places extra pressure on these joints and wears away the cartilage (tissue cushioning the joints) that normally protects them. Weight loss can ease stress on the knees, hips, and lower back and may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

 Gout and other diseases

Gout is a disease that affects the joints. It happens when you have too much uric acid in your blood. The extra uric acid can form crystals that deposit in the joints.

Gout is more common in overweight people. The more you weigh, the more likely you are to get gout. Over the short term, sudden weight changes may lead to a flare-up of gout. If you have a history of gout, check with your doctor for the best way to lose weight.

The other diseases in associated  with obesity includes different types of cancer such as Cancers of the colon, breast (after menopause), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), kidney and oesophagus are linked to obesity. Some studies have also reported links between obesity and cancers of the gallbladder, ovaries and pancreas.  Gallbladder disease and gallstones are more common if you are overweight. Ironically, weight loss itself, particularly rapid weight loss or loss of a large amount of weight, can make you more likely to get gallstones. Losing weight at a rate of about 1 pound a week is less likely to cause gallstones. I am sure many heard about obesity but the question is why some don’t care at all? Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

One Response to “Health Risks Linked to Obesity”

  1. callistus Says:

    Really. Who will win the presidential election in your reckoning.

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