Psychological Impacts Of Obesity In Child

Published: 30th March 2009
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It only seems natural to consider the psychological effects of childhood obesity and how it affects our children. Not too long ago such topics would be unheard of. The child obesity issue worldwide has received so much attention it seems appropriate to consider what is going on in their head. How is their weight issue affecting them emotionally? It's what we don't see in our children which is of most concern. We can easily see their day to day routine but what underlining psychological effects of teen obesity don't we see?

Teasing and bullying could play havoc on the mind
It is often thought that young children who are obese will grow out of it or they are just carrying "baby fat". In some cases this is true and they do grow out of it, but what if they don't? It is a known fact that kids can be mean and bully others. Children who are teased about their weight tend to have poor body image, low self-esteem, and symptoms of depression. Everyone wants to have friends but sometimes the obese child feels isolated and lonely. Their self esteem is low and they use food as their comfort zone, which is usually high in fat, sugar, and calories. The isolation makes them less active so exercise is compromised. Because of peer pressure the psychological affects of childhood obesity affects their overall health which can lead to more serious medical problems. The teen years are all about growing up, being more independent, and socialization.

Is absenteeism linked to childhood obesity?
Peer pressure in teenagers is a major issue whether they have a weight problem or not, which is why teasing obese teens can be psychologically devastating.
Peer pressure is the hub of the psychological effects of teen obesity. The spin-off is problems in school and missing too much school. Obese children are absent from school more often than non obese children. Some will miss school or skip classes to avoid ridicule and others due to medical complications associated with being obese. Behavioral and learning problems develop because they feel depressed and socially unaccepted. Obese children have an equal right to education as non obese children but the taunting affects them emotionally and it's easier to avoid than confront. They are missing out on their education because of the psychological effects of teen obesity.

Why psychological effects of obesity can be carried into adulthood
The psychological effects of child obesity have the potential to be carried into adulthood. An alarming number of obese teens grow up to be obese adults, although it doesn't have to be this way. Once the weight problem is cured and their physical appearance has improved, their self esteem and body image will be restored. Parents must be careful not to ignore the psychological effects of teen obesity that they may still have bottled up inside.

There are steps that parents can do to help ease the psychological stress that results from teen obesity. Engage your teen in open dialog about their eating habits. Many times teens over eat because they are depressed. Openly communicating with your obese child about the problem will allow you to work a plan that is attainable. The good news is with proper nutrition, exercise, and a real good diet plan teens can overcome obesity and live a full normal life.

Childhood obesity can lead to social anxieties
Everyone has a unique view of the world which is different from anyone else. To live in harmony with each other, society has created standards in common agreement with the general population. This has also created a public view of obesity and the regard for it is hardly appreciative. Adolescent obesity automatically receives a negative reaction from society because of the preference for the slim and lean. Many are still subject to verbal abuse. Adolescent females, for instance receive derogatory names and the unending comments about their appearance from peers, family and strangers. There are also those who are subject to bullying or the other way around. Because of the social response for obesity, obese teenagers have the tendency to withdraw.

Adolescent obesity then creates social anxieties. Everybody in society wants to be accepted and belong to a group of their choice. Social anxieties for children are brought upon by the conditions of an adolescent's environment. The development of social anxieties may not originate from home. Some develop the fear from traumatic interactions with non-obese children. The degree of trauma varies but the fear develops nonetheless. Here is where child obesity creates social anxieties. The world is different to people. A slim and healthy teen may have his peers' admiration. He is able to do more such as participate in sports, granted by the blessing of a fit body. The confidence builds as skills and a healthy mentality develops. The case is different for an obese child. The less they participate due to their weight, the worse they feel about themselves. Some are afraid and limit themselves to a certain comfortable peer group who have already accepted their condition and are not bothered by it. They create boundaries in order to protect themselves from whatever danger a social interaction can bring to an obese child.

Taking a look at child obesity creating psychological anxieties, it is apparent that social anxieties are formed as a defense mechanism. Then why does child obesity create social anxieties? The answer is self-preservation. The world is still about survival of the fittest. An obese child may find himself at odds with world allowing psychological anxieties to creep in and take over.

Joanne Williams is worried about child obesity and the effects it will have on this generation. It is a passionate subject as both her children were considered obese for a while. She has written extensively on this subject and shares her thoughts at child obesity

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