An unexpected consequence of childhood obesity

My Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week is about an unexpected consequence of childhood obesity. Much of the discussion of childhood — and adult — obesity is centered on the health effects. Since obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, there are serious consequences of being overfat.

The problem is even more severe in young people. Because of childhood obesity, pediatricians are now treating kids in their early teens for type 2 diabetes. Adults who have type 2 diabetes tend to have heart attacks at a relatively young age and are likely to die early. Does this mean that teenagers who have type 2 diabetes will suffer heart attacks in their 20s and 30s? Many physicians and researchers think so, but the truth is that we just don’t know…yet.

Kids who are obese also tend to be less physically active than their peers. This leads to a condition of low fitness, making participation in sports more difficult, which leads to more inactivity, which can lead to weight gain… I think you get the idea. And children who are at a “healthy” weight may be unfit due to not getting enough exercise. So there is now this situation in which young people are likely to be unfit, obese, or both.

Aside from the health issues, there is an unexpected consequence of childhood obesity: many potential military recruits do not meet weight and/or fitness entrance requirements. It is entirely possible that the obesity epidemic could have national security consequences!

You can read more about the problems associated with obesity and poor fitness among military recruits here.

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