Childhood Obesity - Low Income and Pandemics

The Link Between Childhood Obesity and Lower-Income Households

Our health is one of our most important assets, so many parents want to ensure that they’re making the right decisions for their children from the get-go. However, making healthy choices may not be that simple for all parents.

For quite a while, many researchers thought that race, along with genetics and behavior, was a key factor in determining childhood obesity. However, more than race, low household income is proving more and more to play a part in obesity in little ones.

Childhood Obesity and Low Household Income

Obesity, both in kids and adults, is the result of a variety of factors. The first is behavior, like nutritional choices and level of physical activity. According to the CDC, ensuring that children get a balance of nutrient-dense food and enough physical activity, like youth football, plays an important part in maintaining a healthy weight.

Kids need a balanced diet and an hour of moderate or vigorous exercise a day to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, studies now show a direct relationship between household income and childhood obesity. The higher the rate of poverty a community has, so is the number of overweight children. Kids in high-income homes often have a lower weight and BMI.

When lower-income households don’t have access to recreation spaces for children to exercise or markets with fresh, healthy foods, this makes it easier for kids and parents to make unhealthy choices. Buying cheap, processed food becomes a way of life when that’s what’s in the budget and available, even if it’s loaded with fat, sugar, and empty calories. With no place to play and burn off some energy, kids turn to the TV, video games, or other devices.

The Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Complications of Ongoing Obesity in Kids

Children who are obese at a young age are more likely than their peers to be overweight or obese as an adult. More than this, there are several health risks associated with childhood obesity, such as:

· Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance

· Musculoskeletal disorders and discomfort

· High blood pressure and cholesterol

· Cardiovascular diseases

· Asthma, allergies, and sleep apnea

Other Risks

Kids who experience obesity throughout their childhood may also be more susceptible to problems like low self-esteem and bullying. They are also at higher risk for depression and anxiety.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Obesity

Obesity already comes with many health risks and complications. However, COVID-19 is proving to be even riskier for those with obesity. Studies are showing that obese people are 3 times more likely to need hospitalization if they are infected with COVID-19.

Other risks for those with obesity include:

· Higher risk of infection of COVID-19

· Lower immune function

· Lower lung capacity

· Lower vaccine response

COVID-19 in obese adults may also make it harder to manage symptoms and treatment, in general.

Also, the CDC reports that race does play a factor here, too. 39.8% of Black adults are obese, 33.8% of Hispanics, and 29.9% of white adults. Black and Hispanic adults have a higher rate of obesity and therefore are more likely to suffer more serious effects of COVID-19 than white adults. As many minority groups have not had the same economic or educational opportunities, this circles back to household income having a hand in obesity and affecting overall health.

SOURCES:

University of Michigan: “Low-income communities more likely to face childhood obesity.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Childhood Obesity Causes & Prevention.”

World Health Organization: “Why does childhood overweight and obesity matter?”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19.” Obesity.org: “Obesity & COVID-19.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Prevalence of Obesity Among Youths by Household Income and Education Level of Head of Household — United States 2011–2014.”

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