Thursday, March 22, 2012

Health Vs. Obesity: How Children are Caught in the Crossfire

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza at 9:12 PM
Health Vs. Obesity: How Children are Caught in the Crossfire
In the past ten years children ages 10 to 14 have been being diagnosed with several illnesses ranging from simple colds to cancer. However, less and less children are within the optimum weight for this age group. The most misdiagnosed medical condition in the USA alone is obesity, more importantly childhood obesity. Children are often told that they need to get out and be more active as well as eat more healthy food. Often times however, the child is active all the time between recesses and running for gym class and for different classes. The child is also eating good foods and often are told that they can not have the same foods that their friends are having.

Children are the most import parts of adults lives and to slowly watch the same children eat themselves into early graves has put many parents on edge. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions over the last 10 years and its is the scientific understanding that it may only get worse if something is not done to stop it. However, sometimes the child is being told that they are over weight not just by family members and doctors but other students and teachers as well. The impact that this can have on a child is devastating. It is hard enough for children to fit in but the social norms of healthy and appearance have made it even harder for the children to fit.

Now add in the fact the child is complaining of problems like shortness of breath, feeling like their heart is going to explode, and other such complaints. The parents might shrug them off as nothing more than growing pains or that the child could loss a few pounds that could help them with the breathing issue. It is also possible that the child has gone to the doctor with the parent. The doctor often tells the parent to make sure the child is getting and being active and that the child is eating the healthy diet.

It is the factual opinion that children who are overweight are just being lazy and eating too much food. However, while those facts are correct they are not accurate, in that not all children who have weight issues have them because they are not trying to lose the extra weight or are eating too much food. The fact of the matter is that more children that are overweight are actually suffering from one of many symptoms brought on some kind of medical condition. Some of the most popular medical conditions that can cause a child to gain large amounts of weight are Cushing's Syndrome/Cushing's Disease, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Pseudohypoparathyroidism. It should be said that these medical conditions are rare, however more and more children are being misdiagnosed because the doctors do not take the time to find out if there are some underlying problems. Instead the doctors are just writing it off as the child is being lazy and eating too much food.

More often than not children are not as likely to understand what is going on understand how to explain what is wrong with them. Sometimes the parents are going miss that the child complaining of a tummy ache or even a headache. However, a child with continuous complaints of stomach or even headaches should be looked at with concern. Children can be surprisingly secretive of conditions that they are suffering from. Even worse is when they do not understand what is happening to their bodies and that for a child can be very scary.

Cushing's Syndrome/Disease is one of the three more commonly know rare diseases that can cause a child to start gaining extra weight. This is very rare and can sometimes lead other health conditions that could result in early death. The treatment for Cushing's Syndrome/Disease can range from special steroids to surgery and drug therapy. These treatments are very easy once the diagnosis is discovered the child will often lead a normal life if they stay on the treatment the doctor prescribes for them.

Prader-Willi syndrome is another illness that can have life long issues for those that are treated right away for it. The illness can cause unending hunger and thus those with this illness can sometimes become overweight for lack of control. Children with this illness will often never seem to stop eating. They will always be hungry and can literally eat themselves to death if not monitored correctly. This is of course if they make past infancy, most often child with this illness don't make it past first few months or years.

Pseudohypoparathyroidism also known as Albright's Syndrome is another rare medical condition that can cause weight problems in young pre-teens. This illness is hereditary and can skip generations or even siblings. In one such case one family had three children only two of the children had the illness the third was a carrier but not affected. The oldest being female had two children one child was affected greatly by the illness and the second not as much. Children with this illness must undergo very strict medical testing and treatments which include drug and diet that is designed to help them grow up to be healthy as they can be. This illness can also cause some form of dwarfism and even infertility.

Medical conditions that harm the body and can cause pre-teens ages 10-14 to start gaining weight in excess and cause other medical conditions to arise as well. More often than not most of these medical conditions are rarely even looked at when a child complains of other health problems when they weight more than they should for they age. It is very important that parents listen to their children when they have complaints about things that are not normal for children their age. It is easy to dismiss a child's pains as just growing pains but sometimes it will end up being something that could have been life threatening. Parents should make sure that their child or children get regular checkups and should see a doctor any unusual complaints, health wise.

Parents are the one that can protect the children of the world and when something is bothering their child they need to be responsible for the choices that they make. Yes a child's diet is very important but sometimes that isn't enough when that is the case it is the parents that need to be held responsible. Now, of course, children will often times lie and eat things that they are not suppose to but this is easily found out. Most children will tell the truth if they think that they are going to be in trouble. Also, the children should be allowed to have some say in what they eat especially at the ages of 10-14 because they will be able to really explain what they have a taste for.

In addition to properly teaching children to eat a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, children should be taught that about any health conditions that they have and why they have to be careful of the food that they eat because of those conditions. For example, teach a child with diabetes that they have to watch their blood sugar levels. If they drop too low then they could get sick and if they get too high the same thing will happen. Well children with conditions like Cushing's or Prader-Willi syndrome should be taught as well about their health issues as well. This may help save their lives at some point. Children should not be scared of their medical condition but should be taught that its part of who they are. This would help them not be ashamed of who they are and help them have better self image.

In conclusion, children with these medical conditions are not lazy or have bad parents, they are children who like those with diabetes need medical help and need to be carefully monitored. Children are precious to us and need to have the treatments that they deserve. Medical conditions however do not make them fragile or breakable it is surprising just how strong willed children can be. Children need to be taught that their illness is apart of them not a crutch for them to lean on.


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