Want to set your child up for a lifetime of health problems? Childhood obesity is one of the easiest ways to do it! I highly doubt anyone answered “yes” to that question. At least I really hope no one did! The thing is, if you’re letting childhood obesity become a problem now, you’re practically giving the green light to all sorts of future medical conditions. Everything from diabetes to low self-esteem to cancer can follow your child into his adult years if he is overweight during childhood.
Let’s face it: as parents, there are always going to be things we can’t control. Short of encasing your child in an impenetrable bubble, there is no way to avoid things like the common cold, cuts and bruises and sometimes even broken bones. Fortunately, childhood obesity is preventable.
Immediate Health risks of childhood obesity
Before heading off to the future, let’s take a quick look at all the ways childhood obesity can impact your child’s health today. Did you know that kids who are overweight are at an increased risk for:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Breathing problems
- Joint problems
- Fatty liver disease
- Acid reflux
Whoa! Those are all diseases that we typically associated with aging, not with childhood! Can you imagine your child waking up with aching joints every morning or going on blood pressure medication? I know I can’t! Sure, my son plays the “I’m too tired to walk” act when he doesn’t want to go somewhere, but at least I know it’s just an act! Kids are supposed to be out running around, not taking a cabinet full of medications to control conditions brought on by childhood obesity. It’s sad enough when uncontrollable conditions occur, but it’s downright devastating when it could be prevented.
Long-term health risks: the childhood obesity and cancer link
Can childhood obesity cause cancer? The short answer is “yes.” I know, everything can potentially cause cancer, but just hear me out. While being overweight as a child isn’t the only factor- or even a major factor- in the likelihood of developing cancer as an adult, childhood obesity does play a role in other ways. See, the thing is, obese children are more likely to become obese adults. It’s a cycle that is difficult to break. Obese adults are at a higher risk for a myriad of cancers. These include those that affect the esophagus, uterus, breasts, colon and pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. It scares the pants off me!
Why is obesity linked to cancer? Well, for many reasons really. See, fat tissue causes your body to produce extra hormones. In this case, more is NOT better! Your body prefers to exist in a perfect balance. A little tip in the wrong direction can wreak havoc. Too much estrogen, for example, can cause breast and uterine cancer. Too many hormones in a young girl can bring on the onset of her menstrual cycle early. More cycles throughout her life means a higher risk of developing certain forms of cancer.
Obese people also have higher insulin levels. Aside from contributing to diabetes, this can actually help certain types of tumors grow! Remember how I mentioned that childhood obesity can cause acid reflux? Well, a long history of the condition can break down the lining of the esophagus, making cancer in that organ easier to take hold.
Bottom line: preventing childhood obesity may also help prevent future cancer in your child. It’s so important to make sure that your child eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise! Not just for his present, but for his future!