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Childhood Obesity and Emotional Eating

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Child feeling left out

Potential Psychological Consequences

The typical psychological outcomes of obesity are depressive symptoms, poor body image, low self-concept, risk for eating disorders and behavior and learning problems. This list reminds me of a lonely child in our neighborhood who has all the above issues. I’ve known Anna (not her real name) since she was five. As far as I know, she has always been obese (as has her father). My heart has always gone out to her because it was obvious to me that she had low self-concept and depressive symptoms. Now, at age 13, she is still a loner and plays just with younger children, as far as I can tell. Obese children are often bullied and ridiculed about their appearance by their peers, like Michael was, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. Childhood overweight and obesity can leave emotional and psychological scars for life.

The Obvious Causes

Childhood obesity can be influenced by a number of genetic, environmental and behavioral factors. The most obvious causes are unhealthy eating patterns and too little physical activity at home and at school. Many children spend most of their time in sedentary activities like playing video games or watching television. Physical education has been eliminated from a lot of schools due to budget cuts, and too many parents are afraid to let their children play outdoors these days. As a result, people are pointing fingers to address this growing epidemic. They are blaming schools, fast food restaurants and parents. But blaming is not a solution. We need to work with schools and parents to create solutions, which thankfully, more leaders and organizations are starting to do.

I applaud TV shows like the Biggest Loser and the Emmy-Award winning Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution for increasing awareness on this subject and motivating parents and schools to take action to limit children’s consumption of fast foods, vending-machine snacks, candy and soft drinks that are high in calories and have low nutritional value. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced it would spend $500 million over the next five years to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s obesity initiative, Let’s Move, is geared toward putting youth on a path to a healthy future by providing parents with helpful information to help support their children’s healthy choices.

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Sara, from Institute of HeartMath

Sara Childre is President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.

42 comments

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8:31PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

Thank you for addressing this situation.

1:19AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

My son is one of these over weight children... I'm overweight also, but anyway, I cook natural foods, don't have junk food sitting around, have tons of fresh produce, especially veggies... We unplugged the TV, and encourage physical activity, and we still can't seem to have much effect. The dietitians around here are pretty useless... They seem to have less knowledge than the average person, wanting my son to consume chemicals such as artificial sweeteners and margarine, when I don't have koolaid, soft drinks or sweet teas here... I use the bagged teas, and don't have sugar, but now I'm supposed to ADD artificial sweetener? After doctors have said it's the same as formaldehyde and it actually can contribute to obesity? No thanks...

I'll keep trying.

1:30PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

A report by Dr. Cooper at Vanderbilt University states that 2.5 million children are now taking atypical antipsychotics. Over half are being given them for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Use caution in treating children with powerful psyche drugs like Zyprexa,that can lead to life-long side effects like insulin resistant diabetes.

The use of powerful antipsychotic drugs has increased in children as young as three years old. Weight gain, increases in triglyceride levels and associated risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Eli Lilly also make billions on drugs that treat the diabetes often that has been caused by the Zyprexa!
-Daniel Haszard

1:30PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

A report by Dr. Cooper at Vanderbilt University states that 2.5 million children are now taking atypical antipsychotics. Over half are being given them for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Use caution in treating children with powerful psyche drugs like Zyprexa,that can lead to life-long side effects like insulin resistant diabetes.

The use of powerful antipsychotic drugs has increased in children as young as three years old. Weight gain, increases in triglyceride levels and associated risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Eli Lilly also make billions on drugs that treat the diabetes often that has been caused by the Zyprexa!
-Daniel Haszard
http://www.zyprexa-victims.com


5:47PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Thank you to everyone who posted a comment. The feedback was both thoughtful and thought-provoking and much appreciated.

5:46PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Randi L,

Thank you for the link to your site.

2:00AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

I agree with so many of the comments about parents having both to work and having so little time to give children the security that comes from having a parent always there to listen to them and to help them through the troubles of life. parents can put HUGE amounts of emotional pressure on their children and not even realise it. if the communication is not good, then the child must find some way of making itself feel better and to lower stress levels and if they don't feel loved, there is that nasty 'empty' feeling that they only seem to be able to fill by eating fatty filling food. I hope that ONE day soon, organic veggies and high quality foods will be a financial possibility for even low income families. I single parented, but, as I was in the country, I could grow my own vegetables. Considering vetgetariansism is a way to go, as meat is very expensive and not many vegetrians are overweight. by the way... Giving rewards of food to children, or giving it to them as a way to keep them quiet is a very human way to go and I am sure we have all done it... But, we know the consequences if it becomes a habit!

2:05PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Thanks

8:01AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

We take for granted that children KNOW THEY ARE LOVED and know HOW TO LOVE. Yes, children need to express their emotions, but so do the adults in their lives. Spending a few minutes a day in appreciating one another verbally, out loud, so everyone can hear...can go a long way toward solving lifes problems as a family. It is the subtlety of caring, loving, appreciating that is lost in our society, first and foremost. Also, learning other ways to comfort ourselves other than eating is needed. Instead of zoning out, pay attention to ourselves more. In our busy world often we forget HUMAN TOUCH. How many hugs do you get or give a day? what about an encouraging hand on a child's shoulder? It may seem insignificant, but changes begin with baby steps. itty bitty little changes add up to a quantum leap. And one other thing about foodstuffs...as you lose the need for food to fill up your emotional hole, you actually need less food, and choose better food as a result. Remember, Gorilla's only eat veggies and they are the strongest animal we know.

3:39AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Cruel world where one set of people are worried about Obesity and another set is worried about death from starvation.

If you want to reduce the food intake of your kids so they will lose some weight, donate the extra portions to Somalia.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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