Either we have
gotten super lazy or we just don't know when to stop feeding our kids, but
obesity is now a global
trend that is negatively impacting children in all kinds of ways. According to a recent
study, physical health isn't the only thing at risk. More social things are, and it's really, really sad.
Obese kids are also in
danger of losing their friends.
We know that
children can be cruel, but it’s always difficult when your child is the one
being singled out. Overweight children seem to be at the top of this list. How to confirm? A rigorous study, of course. Because kids no longer run around as much making fun of fat kids? Instead, it's running under the surface.
the University of Southern California conducted a survey in the Netherlands
that consisted of 504 preteens, ages 10 to 12. Participants in 28 classes
listed their best friends as well as their enemies.
assigned weight categories based on their body mass index. About 16 percent of
the participants were overweight.
that overweight children were more likely to be excluded from friendships with
other classmates and disliked by their peers. They also observed that children
who were overweight seemed to dislike more classmates than their thinner peers.
de la Haye, lead author and assistant preventive medicine professor at the
Keck School of Medicine, said she believes that heightened negative relationships can
result in mental, social and physical problems.
finding is alarming because if we continue to have social environments where
fat shaming is the norm, these kids will continue to be ostracized. Those
adverse interactions increase the risk of loneliness, depression, poor eating
habits and illness," de la Haye said.
overweight children placed as many kids in their "friend" category as those with a healthy weight, they
were 1.7 times more likely to be disliked and 1.2 times more likely to dislike
social environment characterized by fewer friendships and more antipathies is
likely to put overweight youth at increased risk for psychosocial
maladjustment," the study stated. "The resulting social isolation may
also promote unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive food intake and decreased
participation in sports and physical activities, which can lead to further
weight gain and thus a cycle of poor physical and social outcomes."
The study also
suggests that overweight children tend to have fewer friends and be friends
with less popular kids who also tend to be overweight.
"We want to
reduce the stigma of being overweight," de la Haye said. "We have
anti-bullying campaigns based on sexual identity, race and ethnicity. We should
do more to integrate obesity in our anti-bullying repertoire."
therapy, though part of American culture, is nothing more than a quick fix: a deceptive solution that
will ultimately lead to bigger problems. If we introduce
healthy eating habits to our kids early on, we are not only protecting them from serious
health risks, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, we are giving
them a strong foundation to build healthy relationships.
OK, so what if your
child is eating healthy and exercising regularly, but cannot seem to lose weight?
If you’ve followed all the rules for
establishing a healthy lifestyle and your child is still struggling to keep up,
it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about evaluating your child for
other medical conditions that can cause obesity, such as Cushing's syndrome,
or side effects from medication.