Childhood Obesity, A Heavy Burden
As a pediatrician who treats children and adolescents with obesity, many parents have asked me, “Why is my child obese?”
I have to admit that I don’t have a good answer to this question. It’s not as simple as an imbalance between calories consumed and calories burned. The medical literature points to the interaction of genetic, physical, behavioral, and environmental factors – meaning it’s really complicated, and there’s isn’t a single culprit.
Most importantly, it’s not the child’s fault.
The Canadian Medical Association recently declared obesity to be a chronic disease. Greater than 20% of Canadian children are overweight and more than 10% have obesity. Overweight and obese children are more likely to become overweight adults.
Children with obesity carry a heavy burden, not just physically, but emotionally, too.
Obesity is associated with the development of physical problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Although clinical treatments have shown minimal impact on body weight, lifestyle changes like improving sleep, increasing physical activity, and changing nutrition and eating behaviors can lead to long-lasting emotional health and wellness in overweight and obese children and adolescents.
My team created this video to describe the complexity of childhood obesity, reduce the obesity stigma, and provide simple advice on how to improve the health and wellness of children and adolescents. We entered it into a competition through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH). Part of the decision on who wins is by audience vote through YouTube likes. So please watch it, “like” it, and share it, and help help us to reduce the heavy burden that children and adolescents with obesity carry.
(To vote: Play the video. On the bottom right side of the video screen there’s a YouTube icon – click there to “watch in YouTube”. Then click the thumbs up icon. You’ll be asked to sign in, which you can even do using your gmail address.)