Dr Rajat Goel
You’ve probably heard tales about the contented overweight person. As consoling as they may seem, especially if your own child is overweight, they could really be more myth than fact in most kids’ lives. Childhood obesity has financial expenses in addition to health expenditures, and your child’s weight issue is closely linked to his emotional life.
Social Shame & Stigmatisation
Living with extra weight may be difficult for overweight kids. In some ways, the social stigma associated with being overweight may harm children just as much as the medical illnesses and problems that frequently go along with it. Studies have shown that youngsters as early as 6 years old may identify negative stereotypes with obesity and assume that a big child is just less likeable in a culture that places a premium on thinness.
Bullying at School and Self-Esteem
It’s true that some overweight kids enjoy high levels of popularity among their peers, feel good about themselves, and possess a lot of self-confidence. However, compared to his slimmer friends, your youngster who is fat is more likely to suffer from poor self-esteem. His low self-esteem may cause him to feel self-conscious about his appearance, and his lack of confidence may affect his schoolwork. You probably don’t need a lengthy explanation of how tough a child’s daily life may occasionally be if they are overweight.
These children may hear from peers (and even adults) that being overweight is their own responsibility. They could receive insults. They could experience bullying and taunting. They could be shunned by their old pals, and they might have a hard time finding new ones. When teams are chosen in physical education classes, they could be the final one picked.
He can feel as though he doesn’t fit in or belong anyplace with all of this upheaval. He could consider himself unique and an outcast. He will frequently experience loneliness and is less prone than his friends to think of himself as cool or popular. He might also grow melancholy and retreat within himself when this scenario becomes embedded in his life—month after month, year after year.
In an odd twist, while their parents and physicians are advising them to eat less, some overweight youngsters may turn to food for emotional consolation, packing on even more calories to their plates. Some kids habitually overeat due to these and other emotional ups and downs in life, such as the strain of relocating to a new area, challenges in school, the loss of a parent, or a divorce.
There are other effects of obesity that last long beyond puberty and beyond. Teenagers and adults who are overweight may experience prejudice based only on their weight. According to some data, they have a lower chance of being admitted to a prominent university. Compared to their counterparts who are slimmer, they could also have a harder time getting desirable occupations. Women who are overweight have a lower chance of dating or finding a spouse. In summary, overweight folks have a tendency to make less money and get married less frequently than their acquaintances who are average weight.
Growing kids who are still figuring out who they are may be more susceptible to these impacts as well as bullying, mocking, and stigmatisation from their classmates.
However, the cycle can be broken. Problems like excessive screen time, inactivity, and poor food may be resolved by making lifestyle adjustments.
The dietary pattern of a balanced, more plant-based, less processed foods lifestyle, regular physical exercise, and less screen time should be encouraged by parents and other caregivers. All of these things can enhance gut health, regulate weight, and enhance self-esteem and overall well-being.
The writer is Obesity and Bariatric Surgeon at Apollo Spectra Delhi, Karol Bagh