Childhood obesity is expected to double over the next 20 years. The human brain develops rapidly in the first few years of life, particularly the areas responsible for learning, memory and higher cognitive functioning.
Fat cells foster inflammation by releasing a specialized protein called cytokines into the blood stream which are capable of shrinking regions of the brain particularly those areas involved in learning and recall.
Obesity in adolescents is directly linked with impairments in attention, mental flexibility and poor behavior control.
There are far too many risk factors associated with childhood obesity. Poor performance in mental tasks and less than acceptable levels of literacy are often consequences. This is in no way an acceptable situation when we consider the continuing rise of the childhood obesity epidemic. Leave aside all of the diseases associated and risk of adult obesity and just looking at brain development alone is enough to convince us that as a population we need to take action.
Obese kids are clearly disadvantaged if they are unable to learn at the same rate as their healthier peers.
I am keen to look at initiatives that we can take on to help alleviate the stress on overweight and obese kids. We need to help them. Comment below if you have any ideas on what programs should look like.