Healthy Weight 


"Because of the current overweight epidemic in children and teens, for the first time in history, today's kids will not live as long as their parents." - statement by Dr. William Klish, Co-chairman, Seminar on Overweight in Childhood, American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Meeting, October 2001.  Dr. Klish is a member of the National Institutes of Health Expert Committee on Overweight in Childhood.  Professor Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois, one of the world's leading experts on obesity, likewise predicts that, "life expectancy from birth in the U.S. will decline as a result of the obesity epidemic that will creep through all ages like a human tsunami." 

Overweight in children and teens is not about looks.  Overweight can cause serious health problems, both now and later: "Ten years ago people were concerned about overweight in children and teens causing overweight in adults and disease in adult life.  What’s changed is that overweight in children and teens causes disease in childhood and teenage years and complications in young adults."  - statement by Dr. Heather Dean, professor of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, annual meeting of The American Diabetes Association.  Kids tend to think that being overweight causes diseases only in adults, but that is not true anymore.  Diseases caused by overweight in children and teens include: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, liver failure, breathing problems, and joint and bone problems.

Belly Fat

It is now believed that belly fat is the most dangerous form of overweight.  Belly fat means that there is fat inside the abdomen as well as outside.  Fat inside the abdomen is fat in the important organs of the body, like the liver, the pancreas, the intestines.  Fat in these organs causes diseases like fatty liver disease and diabetes.  Fatty liver disease can result in liver failure and need of a liver transplant, even in kids as young as 15.  Diabetes is just as bad.

Overweight and Type 2 Diabetes:

The article at left recently appeared in Pediatric News.  Type 2 diabetes is caused mainly by being overweight.  Type 2 diabetes was previously a disease seen only in older overweight adults, but it is now happening in overweight children and teenagers, at an alarming rate.  The article indicates that Type 2 diabetes in the childhood and teenage years has been found to result in severe problems in young adulthood (in the 20's and 30's) including kidney failure, blindness, loss of limbs (see photos below and at lower left), and even death.  Type 2 diabetes in kids, due to being overweight, is increasing at a frightening rate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control now estimates that one in three children born after year 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes (see recent article).  The rate will be even higher in African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics, where nearly half of those kids will develop the disease (see video at lower left).  Also  worrisome is that two out of every five kids (40%) who have Type 2 diabetes do not know that they have it.  Most kids with Type 2 diabetes have a relative with Type 2 diabetes, but relatives also may not know that they have the disease.  Overweight children and teens are at highest risk for Type 2 diabetes if they have a relative with Type 2 diabetes, or if they are of African American, Hispanic American, Native American, or Asian American origin.  Signs of Type 2 diabetes include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and dark patches in the creases of the skin, called acanthosis nigricans (see picture at right).  Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, or fatigue.  Testing for Type 2 diabetes consists of drawing a blood sample for sugar level after you have not eaten for several hours.

To read a true story about Donna, a girl who developed Type 2 diabetes and complications as a child, click on her photo at left, or click here. There is also an online video with Donna's story, which you can watch on the page.

Other Diseases Caused by Being Overweight:

Overweight kids are also developing other life-threatening diseases once found almost entirely in adults.  Three out of five kids (60%) with high blood pressure are overweight and the rate of high blood pressure is rapidly increasing in kids.  High blood pressure is nine times more common in overweight kids, and puts them at risk for strokes (breaking of a blood vessel in the brain), which can paralyze or result in death.  Overweight children and teens are developing sleep apnea (stopping of breathing during sleep), liver and gall bladder disease, joint wear, and may face a heightened risk of hip replacement down the road (see picture at left).  Clogging of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) from fat deposits can block the flow of blood to important organs like the heart and brain.  Clogging of the arteries of the heart from fat deposits has been found in children as young as three years of age.  A new research study has found that the arteries of overweight kids, even just 10 years old, resemble the arteries of heavy smokers (see photos below).  

Overweight And Cost Of Insurance:

Another recent article states that, "Overweight children are at risk of dying decades earlier than they should."  Life insurance and health insurance are therefore more difficult to obtain and are more expensive if you are overweight. 

Overweight And Memory:

Maintaining a healthy weight may help you maintain a good memory.  Even though many overweight teens and kids may not develop diabetes, their blood sugars are frequently higher than blood sugars of healthy weight kids.  A study finds that high blood sugar, which is common in people who are overweight, may damage the brain and contribute to memory loss later in life.  


You get teased less You can move faster, and are more nimble
Less chance of a stroke Less high blood pressure

   Less stretch marks

Less clogged arteries  Less risk of diabetesLess joint problems

Artery Clogged With Fatty Plaque

Normal Artery (Top), Clogged Artery (Bottom)

24 yr. old with kidney failure on dialysis machine

Damage to the retina of the eye from diabetes


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