The apple does not fall far with childhood obesity: Obesity and depression


Johnny is a 10-year-old boy and 50 pounds overweight. He’s slower than most and is embarrassed about his size. Being invited to a pool party, Johnny will either not go, or accidentally forget his swimsuit and sit by the side of the pool.

Obesity in children leads to an unhealthy life, with increased chances for developing diabetes, heart disease and other health issues. Yet, childhood obesity has also been found to cause psychological damage to children’s health and depression.

Obesity leading to depression

Depression connected with childhood obesity can morph into other varying forms or mental disorders as the child grows up. One cause for childhood obesity can be from the habits of the parents, explained in parts one and two of this series. Published online in the International Journal of Child Health and Human Development, a study collects and explores data of obese children in connection with depression. The researchers of the study found inactivity, obesity and depression are connected in a variety of ways, but not a single specific way.

“The relation between obesity, depression, and inactivity is multidirectional,” the study details, “Inactivity is a cause of obesity,” while, “Depression may be a cause of inactivity and therefore promote obesity.” In other ways obesity from unhealthy eating habits can be the cause of depression. The results help to shed light on many facets of childhood obesity and the need for more than just a diet or lots of exercise.

The warning signs and where to start

Bradley Hospital explains the warning signs of depression caused by obesity, including:

  • Reluctance to socialize or has few friends
  • Obsession with food and eating frequently
  • Becoming sad, angry, lonely or withdrawn
  • Reluctance to go to school

These are only a few of the warning signs found in obese children. There are various reasons as to why obesity leads to depression. Being labeled fat by other children at school will push kids to continue eating and become secluded.

The stigma of being overweight can be deadly as Bradley Hospital explains in one survey: “Twenty-six percent of teens who were teased at school and at home reported they had considered suicide, and 9 percent tried it.” Seeking advice and help from a professional pediatrician or nutritionist will help to understand and help the child lose weight. It is important to focus more on the healthy life aspect than the body image aspect of losing weight.

White River Academy is not a second chance school, but a school fresh starts in the way of rehabilitation from addictions, recovering from mental health illness and repurposing a teenage boys negative energies toward positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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