Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Childhood Obesity

The Mayo clinic staff defines childhood obesity as occurring when, “a child or adolescent is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height”. The primary concerns of childhood obesity can lead to more serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone and joint issues, sleep apnea and high cholesterol. From a mental health standpoint, there is real concern about the child’s self esteem, use of emotional eating and depression.

According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last thirty years. Parents are often informed during routine physicals at the pediatrician’s office of their child’s BMI (body mass index). The BMI is calculated by measuring the child’s height and weight and comparing the child on a percentile rating scale to other child his or her age of the same height and weight. The center for disease control established the rankings that determine what is considered overweight.

Addressing childhood obesity should be done through proper consultation with your pediatrician. Involving the family in good eating patterns and a more active lifestyle is a win-win situation for the entire family.

The mental health issues that can arise from this problem can be quite serious. Obese children often become targets of bulling, shy away from activities that require wearing a bathing suit, have difficulty playing sports, develop body image issues, experience low self esteem, have nervousness or anxiety symptoms and even depression symptoms.

Signs and symptoms to look for that your child may be experiencing emotional problems related to obesity are:
You notice your child has become withdrawn, shy or self isolates
Your child does not want to go to school
Your child is showing a preoccupation with food
Your child is sleeping too long
Your child is cutting him or herself
Your child is verbalizing threats of harming him or herself

If you notice any of theses signs in your child, please contact our office to set up an evaluation for your child, at 386-736-9165.

Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

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