The Scary Effects of Obesity in Children

You may think pudgy babies are cute, but obesity in children is becoming epidemic—with pretty serious consequences. Here in Texas, many diseases that were once considered adult—heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure and cholesterol levels—are appearing in younger and younger children. Add to that the poor self-esteem and depression that often accompany obesity, and the outlook for a happy, healthy life for obese children seems less and less likely. It has been estimated that most children today will not live as long as their parents, or even their grandparents. That is a sign of poor health and development in a society.

Blueprint for Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes used to be referred to as an adult-onset as opposed to the juvenile-onset form of the condition (type 1). That has changed, as more and more young people are now developing the type 2 variety. This can be characterized by a number of symptoms: increased thirst and dry mouth, frequent urination, tiredness or blurry vision, skin that itches or is slow to heal, and numbness or tingling in extremities. If you notice these symptoms, get your child to a doctor.

Building Blocks of the Disease

Obesity in children is one of the highest risk factors for developing this condition. Excess fat, especially in the abdomen, makes it more likely that your child’s body will not produce enough insulin to release the sugars in the blood for use by the cells. When sugar levels rise too high, other things begin to happen. Your child may develop poor circulation or nerve damage. His or her kidneys may be affected and unable to remove toxins adequately. Loss of eyesight and development of heart disease are other complications that can affect your child’s health and life.

Lack of exercise only makes the problems worse. Sitting all day in class or in front of the TV or computer means children don’t burn enough calories, and their weight will keep increasing. The more they sit, the less efficient their hearts become, and the slower the blood flow. This makes it even harder to exercise, and a vicious cycle ensues.

How You Can Help Construct Healthy Lives

The best way to deal with the issue is to make sure your children eat healthy foods and get lots of activity. Model this for them by eating well and being active yourself. Help them plant a garden, even if it’s just a container or two. You will get them busy outside, with the benefit of enjoying vegetables they have grown themselves. Another option is to let them shop the farmers’ market with you for fresh, healthy food.

Walk with them to the park or the school playground, or go for bike rides together. Take a drive out of the city to a natural area or state park and hike the trails. If nothing else, challenge them to a jumping jack contest in your yard, or race them around the block. As the famous slogan says, just do it. You will both benefit with lost pounds and gained abilities.

Where Our Help Fits In Your Plans

If your child is obese and has been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to pay special attention to his or her legs and feet, as this is where problems often develop first. Make sure you choose shoes wisely, because obesity in children can cause issues with their feet. If you notice calluses, blisters, or sores forming, bring them in to Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists and let Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS evaluate their feet and legs. Call (512) 328-8900 to set up an appointment. We can figure out what’s going on and advise you on the best treatment. We can also help you with diet and exercise information to improve your child’s sugar control. Working together, we can plan and build a stronger, healthier, happier future for your child.

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Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists