Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Overweight and obesity in childhood (including adolescence) is associated with serious physiological, psychological, and social consequences, as listed below. Many of these consequences manifest during childhood, others later in life. Of great concern is that children who are overweight or obese are also more likely to be overweight or obese as adults (Freedman et al., 2005; Wang et al., 2008). And, perhaps even more disturbing, today’s youth may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of the high prevalence of obesity (Olshansky et al., 2005). Obesity has substantial economic consequences as well: one study estimates costs at $11 billion for children with private insurance and $3 billion for children enrolled in Medicaid (Marder & Chang, 2005).

Physiological Consequences of Childhood Overweight or Obesity
•Dyslipidemia (e.g., high blood triglycerides, high cholesterol)
•High blood pressure
•Metabolic syndrome
•Gallbladder disease
•Liver disease
•Sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing
•Orthopedic complications
•Iron deficiency
•Earlier onset of puberty
•Poor health-related quality of life
•Premature death later in life (

Psychological and Social Consequences of Childhood Overweight or Obesity
•Low self-esteem
•Feelings of worthlessness or inferiority
•Body dissatisfaction
•Disordered eating and unhealthy weight control behaviors
•Substance use
•Peer victimization (e.g., victims and perpetrators of bullying)
•Negative stereotyping, stigmatization, and teasing
•Behavior problems
•Poor academic performance
•School absenteeism