Integrative Health Blog

Is It a Big Deal That My Child is Overweight?

Posted by Dr. Teresa Fuller on Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

 holistic_pediatrics_DC

One in three American children are overweight or obese

It’s now common knowledge that childhood obesity has become an epidemic in our country. One in every three children is overweight or obese.  While this issue has been getting less media attention recently, we don’t want to underestimate the looming health crisis that will result from such large numbers of children being overweight.   We have already been seeing a staggering increase in common childhood illnesses, such as asthma and allergies, because of the increasing toxicity of our environment.  Overweight and obesity add yet another burden to our children’s stressed systems. 

Overweight and obesity may put your child at risk for the following diseases:

Type 2 Diabetes: Obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.   A serious illness, diabetes is the leading cause of many serious medical problems later in life, such as kidney disease, blindness, heart disease, and circulation problems leading to amputation.

High blood lipid levels: By lipids, we are referring to cholesterol, triglycerides, low and high density lipoproteins to name the most common ones.  Obese children often have lipid disorders, specifically: high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, high LDL levels, low HDL levels.  These abnormal lipid levels lead to increased cardiovascular risk.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure also increases with overweight and obesity in childhood.  Just like other health problems, it continues into adulthood which sets these children up for cardiovascular disease later in life.   

Asthma: Obesity is clearly a risk factor for asthma.  The prevalence of asthma is higher in obese as opposed to lean people.  Obesity has also been shown to worsen asthma control.  Why is this?  Because obesity causes chronic systemic inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is the body’s fighting mechanism against foreign invaders.  Lung inflammation exacerbates the airway narrowing mechanism of asthma.

Obstructive sleep apnea : Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)  is a serious problem in childhood and adulthood.  It causes sleep disturbance, and leads to high blood pressure, right sided heart disease, and neurocognitive effects.  Up to 59% of obese children and adolescents have OSA.  OSA also contributes to insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver.

The Metabolic Syndrome: What is it?  It has several definitions, but according to the National Cholesterol Education Program, the metabolic syndrome is the presence of any 3 of the following 5 risk factors: high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol level, hypertension, elevated fasting glucose, increased waist circumference.  This syndrome increases a person’s risk for heart disease.

In case that’s not enough, obesity is also linked to many psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Of course, you don’t want any of these diseases for your children.  Therefore, start taking simple actions, such as ensuring a healthy diet and daily vigorous exercise to keep your child’s weight in a healthy range. 

 

pediatrician_DC_holisticTeresa Fuller MD, PhD, is a holistic pediatrician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  She is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative, holistic medicine with a doctorate in physiology. Dr. Fuller is in a unique position to impact the health of children by identifying and correcting the underlying contributors of imbalance such as nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, infection and stresses, in order to restore your child’s health. Her focus is prevention of chronic illness and obesity in children and young adults, ADHD, asthma and allergies.

Topics: obesity, children's health, pediatrics