Ryan Rivera, guest contributor

There have been a number of studies that linked childhood obesity and anxiety. Childhood obesity has become a very serious medical condition.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that the incidence of childhood obesity has doubled in children and tripled among adolescents in the last 30 years. In 2010, more than 33 percent of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese.

Childhood obesity sufferers have higher cardiovascular disease risk due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is also associated with increased risk of cancer and osteoarthritis. That is why there is a pressing need to understand the relation of anxiety with childhood obesity and find ways to curb this impending health menace.


Sad children tend to be heavier

A new study shows that children that have been overweight or borderline obese from kindergarten to the third grade are also showing signs of anxiety or depression. The negative feelings have become worse overtime said researchers from the University of Missouri. MU researchers examined the social development and the behavior of about 8,000 school-age children.

Girls that have been obese or overweight, said the researchers, are viewed with less favor compared to girls that have near normal weight. Obese girls are seen to be less sociable and have shown less self-control. The appearance-based social behavior has created artificial pressures that have caused anxiety.


Sad children have altered dopamine signaling

Dopamine is one of the feel-good chemicals in the brain that makes the person calmer and less anxious. However, a study conducted by the University of Illinois said that there is a link between high-fat diets and some mental disorders. The study’s results on obese and juvenile mice saw a sharp decline in the dopamine metabolism that led to the emergence of anxiety symptoms and even learning difficulties.

Mice that are stout have increased their burrowing and even shown reluctance to go to open spaces and even developed memory impairments and other mental disorders. Switching to a low-fat diet showed signs of improvement in the learning difficulties of mice, the study said.


Sad children are caught in the middle

In a 2006 study, it was not established if obesity is causing anxiety or vice versa. It is possible that there is more than one factor that is involved showing the links between anxiety and obesity.

The fact that people tend to eat more and choose unhealthy food when they are suffering from anxiety and stress is an indication that there is a direct link. There are also people that would not eat anything when they are sad or anxious.

The fact that being obese tends to be socially undesirable and even a sudden target for bullies causes children to have negative thoughts thus making them sadder compared to other children.


Sad children are unhappy over their physical appearance

In a research study in Australia, it was shown that it is not the obesity itself that is causing the anxiety. It is the impact of obesity on the physical appearance making children less socially acceptable.

This leads to negative thoughts and emotions that eventually impacts mental health. That is why children with poor physical health tends to show signs of anxiety or worse progresses towards childhood depression.

In reality according to the study it is the underweight people that are more prone to have mental health problems compared to overweight people. It is just that since underweight people have less physical problems they are able to mask anxiety symptoms well.


Sad children will not get happiness right away with weight loss

According to some studies, losing weight among obese children does not guarantee immediate turnaround from anxiety problems. Losing weight may help improve the physical health and also the anxiety but it would not immediately cause any improvement in mental health.


Sad children have to wait for answers

Studies conducted recently showed that there is a link between anxiety and obesity but there is still confusion if obesity causes anxiety or the other way around. It is possible that obesity is not the contributor but the problems that are linked with obesity causes people to feel anxious and depressed.

Schools play a vital role in building their children’s confidence and create a healthy environment both physical and mental. As we move to better understand the links between obesity and anxiety, it is best to teach children how to eat healthy and to encourage more physical activities.


Ryan Rivera loves to share all his learned tips and tricks for conquering anxiety through his writings.  If anxiety plagues your child, try to get some help by visiting calm clinic account.