“The difficulty really comes in that once adolescents are obese, they more than likely will remain obese into and through their adulthood. There is no easy fix. It takes time, hard work and a drive to change habits that have been established for a long time,” said Garry Sigman, MD, a pediatrician and obesity expert at Loyola University Health System and associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The physical implications of obesity are vast and dangerous. It is a major risk factor for numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, skin problems, orthopaedic abnormalities, diabetes and cancer. Just as scary are the psychological and emotional impact obesity will have on children and adolescents.
“Obesity in children can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and isolation. Even as young as 5 years old, children can be stigmatized by their peers. This can result in depression or suicidal ideation, especially among adolescent girls. Since food can be comforting, the child may turn to or may already have turned to food to feel better. This is a very circular problem and so when dealing with obesity the whole child – mind, body and soul – needs to be addressed as well as the environment,” Sigman said.