If your child is overweight, this is more than a matter of self-esteem. It’s a matter of high blood pressure.
Even if an obese child can play tag, jump on a trampoline and ride a bike, high blood pressure is a real threat to his or her body.
Obesity is a major risk factor for hypertension. This dangerous condition doesn’t care how old — or young — the victim is.
This single fact alone is why it’s NEVER okay, NEVER acceptable, for a child to be clinically obese.
This means at least 20 percent over his or her ideal weight relative to height.
Even for children who are overweight but not in the obese range, this needs to be addressed, as “just a little chubby” is often a gateway to obesity, which can then lead to morbid obesity.
The Scourge of Obesity in Children
“Obese children are at risk for high blood pressure, early cardiac (heart) disease, type 2 diabetes, injuries, sleep apnea and social problems with peers,” explains Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”
“This does not mean ‘all’ obese children will have these problems, but the risk is significantly higher.
• Childhood obesity is a well-established epidemic in the U.S.
• Thirty percent of very overweight adolescents have obesity associated with high blood pressure and also have other risk factors.
• The prevalence of premature heart disease in young adulthood will more than triple from five percent to 16 percent for currently big adolescents when they reach 35 years.
Promoting Healthy Habits Is Not Body Shaming
- This isn’t about “fat shaming.”
- It’s about hypertension shaming.
- High blood pressure needs to be shamed because it kills so many people.
“We see high blood pressure in obese children commonly in the clinic, starting around school age,” says Dr. Lewis.
“Typically obese toddlers won’t have a problem with high blood pressure, but blood pressure must be checked to ensure this is not a problem.
“If obesity related blood pressure is not critical, steps are taken to ensure the child does not diet (deprive themselves of food) to lose weight, but rather, learn to eat healthy to stop the excessive weight gain.
“The treatment plan for obesity in children and obesity related complications such as high blood pressure entails a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and dairy, healthy grains and increased fiber.
“Sugar drinks should be eliminated or at the very least reduced to once per week as a treat.”
This isn’t about teaching your child to embrace their body. It’s about teaching your child to embrace the concept of HEALTH and FITNESS.
- Serve up more salad and less ice cream to your children.
- Learn to say “No.”
- Learn to ignore the pestering and whining for cookies and the balking at apples and yogurt.
Read it again: Obesity can cause high blood pressure in kids!
Having 20+ years’ experience, Dr. Lewis completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital. For two years afterward she was assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.