• Vol. 38 No. 1, 75–81
  • 15 January 2009

Consequences of Childhood Obesity

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: The incidence of childhood obesity is rising across the globe, and obesity related co-morbidities are increasing concomitantly in the paediatric population.

Materials and Methods: PubMed search for research and review papers on complications of childhood obesity was performed.

Results:The consequences of childhood obesity can be broadly classified into medical and psychosocial consequences. Medical consequences include metabolic complications such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and mechanical problems such as obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and orthopaedic disorders. Psychological and social consequences are prevalent but often overlooked. Local data on these complications were also discussed.

Conclusions: : Childhood obesity is associated with significant morbidities, which not only have immediate impact on the health of the obese children, but also significantly increase the risk of morbidities in adulthood.


The global escalation of childhood obesity is a major concern, as excessive adiposity is the root cause of leading metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, and related mortality. Widely prevalent in obese adults, these metabolic co-morbidities are beginning to surface in obese children, and it will not be unreasonable to expect a dramatic increase in young adults afflicted with glucose intolerance, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and ischaemic heart disease in the near future. Substantial consequences to the physical and mental health must be anticipated when caring for these young obese patients, as many of these chronic diseases are now appearing in childhood rather than adulthood. Paediatricians now have to handle chronic illnesses that were once regarded as adult diseases. The epidemic of childhood obesity and its attendant risks is a relatively recent phenomenon, and there is limited experience in the management of childhood onset obesity-related complications, with a paucity of evidence-based data and management guidelines.

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