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According to the studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine, India stands second at the global level in terms of obesity-struck children population. With almost 14.4 million obesity cases reported, childhood obesity has emerged as an epidemic in the country. Studies also reveal that childhood obesity is growing at a faster rate in comparison to adult obesity, with almost 108 million children around the globe reaching to a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30.

It is a known fact that obesity triggers various metabolic diseases and mental illnesses that disrupt daily life by harming a patient’s physical health, social environment and mental status. Since children have a developing mental state, they are more prone to mental or emotional strains.

Relation between Stress and Obesity

Medical science claims that obesity in children induces serious health and mental concerns including type-2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, and stress. Medical experts have explained a mechanism by which obesity affects stress hormones in children. Adverse childhood experiences, emotional traumas, economic factors, and poor child-guardian relationships are some of the major causes of stress in children that increase the risk of obesity.

Early life stressors in children disrupt the biological stress regulation system that increases the risk of obesity in children by:

  • Altering the structure of brain regions responsible for emotion regulation
  • Disrupting dietary patterns and food behavior 
  • Imposing unproductive lifestyle patterns

On the basis of laboratory test results, scientists claim that stressors during childhood carry onto adulthood. They can have long-lasting results on the brain parts associated with decision-making, addiction and learning.

Obesity and Stress Effect on Children

Childhood obesity is a serious health concern that can potentially raise serious problems like attention-deficit\hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), asthma, and other learning disabilities. Some other problems associated with stress and obesity include:

  • Poor overall health
  • Conduct disorder with learning disabilities
  • Increased emotional and behavioral problems
  • Development delays
  • Allergies and infections
  • Bone, joint and muscle problems
  • Headaches and ear infections

According to the Center for Disease Control, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled since 1980 which has raised an alarming situation along with an urgent need to control the situation.

How to reduce your Child’s Stress?   

The best bariatric surgeons in India claim stress to be a major contributing factor to physical and mental illness. They conclude chronic stress to drastically reduce the quality of life as well as life expectancy in obese patients. Some ways to reduce stress include:

  • A regular exercise routine
  • Consumption of balanced diet
  • Finding or developing an appropriate coping mechanism
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Practicing time management skills
  • Getting adequate rest and sleep

As per the top obesity surgeons in India, some obese children who are unable to lose weight with diet, exercise and behavioral counseling can safely undergo a weight loss surgery, to avoid related mental and physical stress while improving their quality of life.

Dr. Atul N. C Peters is the Director at the Department of Bariatric, Minimal Access & General Surgery at Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi. He operates in India and Dubai. His particular areas of expertise include Laparoscopic & Robotic Bariatric Surgery, Metabolic Surgery and GI Surgery.

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