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Child Counselor: How Obesity Affects Children

As a child counselor, I know that childhood, especially adolescence, can bring with it a host of pressures that adults may find difficult to understand.  From pressure to perform well in school to pressure from often unstable home lives, children can find it hard to cope with everyday life.  With the problem of childhood obesity reaching almost epidemic proportions, children who are overweight face yet another kind of pressure and that is the pressure to conform to accepted body norms.  

How Obesity Is Defined In Adults And Children

To determine whether or not a child is overweight or obese, a medical doctor will first figure his or her body mass index, or BMI.  Adult BMI is calculated using weight, height and sex.  The formula used is weight (in pounds) divided by height (in inches) divided again by height (in inches) and multiplied by 703.  A normal adult BMI is 18.5 – 24.9.  An overweight adult BMI is 25.0 – 29.9.  An obese adult BMI is 30.0 – 39.9 and a morbidly obese adult BMI is 40.0 or greater.  For children, the same formula is used but the child’s age and sex are also taken into account.

How Obesity Impacts A Child’s Physical And Mental Health

Childhood obesity impacts all children regardless of their sex, age, race or ethnicity and it is the most common health problem impacting children today.  In addition, overweight and obese children almost always tend to grow into overweight and obese adults.  Overweight and obese children can struggle with these often life-threatening consequences of carrying too much weight:

  ▪ Sleep apnea

  ▪ Asthma

  ▪ High cholesterol

  ▪ Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver)

  ▪ High blood pressure

  ▪ Type 2 diabetes

  ▪ Joint problems

  ▪ Social discrimination

  ▪ Low self-esteem

  ▪ Depression

Who Can Help With The Problem Of Childhood Obesity

For a child who is dealing with the physical, mental and emotional side effects of being overweight, there are a number of medical professionals who can help.  Pediatricians, dieticians and exercise specialists can diagnose obesity, treat the health issues that accompany obesity, help a child make healthier food choices and help to get him or her moving.  In addition, a child counselor can help to address the mental and emotional problems that arise with being young and overweight.  Parents and caregivers also play an important role in keeping children healthy.  They can and should encourage better eating habits, ensure that children have an adequate amount of physical activity and give children daily encouragement and praise.

If you have a child who is struggling with the problem of obesity and the pressure that comes from not fitting in with their less-overweight peers, get the help of a child counselor.  Call me, Jody VanDrimmelen, at Insight Child & Family Counseling at (972) 426-9500 or visit me online at to schedule an appointment.

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