While fat in American diets has declined in recent years due to the public's response to the nationwide overweight epidemic, obesity is still a growing concern. While removing fat from their diets, people will often increase their intake of sugar, high density carbohydrates, and starches. Low protein and fat meals often leave people feeling hungry, leading them to fill their stomachs as soon as possible.
The long term effects of childhood obesity are numerous. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes are all major health risks that result from obesity. Obese adults frequently struggle against heart disease. Children with a normal healthy rate rarely suffer from these conditions.
One of the largest concerns in recent years has been the rising number of children afflicted with type 2 diabetes – a disease that previously mainly afflicted adults. In the course of the last two decades, the statistics of children and adult afflicted with this disease have risen to fifty percent. Today, nearly thirty percent of all adults and twenty five percent of all children struggle with obesity. What's more, children who are obese often develop into obese adults. Parallel to the increase in obesity has been the increase in type 2 diabetes, also known as non insulin dependent diabetes. Throw obesity in the equation, and this type of diabetes can be very difficult to treat. It can even cause the body to develop an insulin resistance.
Children are also at risk for contacting asthma. Overweight boys tend to have a higher risk than overweight girls. The effect of asthma is greater in children who are nonallergic. A recent study concluded that asthmatic children who were obese treated a lot more than non-obese asthmatic children. Obese children with asthma tend to wheeze more, require more medication, and end up having to make more visits to the emergency room.
What's more, obesity can have serious psychological effects on children. The biggest problem is with self-esteem issues that results from discrimination on a social level. One recent study had obese children rate their general quality of life; they scored as low as cancer patients in chemotherapy. The children were asked to fill out a questionnaire rating their abilities to perform every day activities such as get along with others in their peer group, keep up with the rest of the class in school, sleep well, play sports, and walk a distance of more than one city block. Obese children scored low in all these areas, indicating that their quality of life was very low. Parents who were asked to fill out a similar question about their children ranked even lower in their assessment of their children's quality of life.
We live in a culture that sends out very strong messages about ideal beauty and body weight. Girls are encouraged to regularly diet and exercise until they attain a fit, thin body. Boys are told to constantly work out and do whatever is necessary to attain a buff, muscular façade. This put both obese boys and obese girls at risk for developing psychological and eating disorders.