For many overweight children and teens, their physical health and well-being is the least of their problems. Much more relevant is the teasing, taunting and poor treatment they receive from other children at school and in the community. And for many, it’s not only how others think of them, but how they think of themselves. Asizable percentage of overweight kids – particularly girls – are clinically depressed as a result of a preoccupation with being overweight.
The evidence on the psychological consequences of obesity for kids is piling up. A recent survey reveals that obese children rate their quality of life as low as those of young cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Other studies are reporting increased rates ofdepression, low self-esteem and social isolation, which are then manifest in significant behavioral problems. As these children grow up, they are less likely to be accepted into college, less likely to get married, and more likely to occupy a lower socioeconomic status.
It might be true that overweight kids have always been hard on themselves, and have always been mistreated. But a 2001 study byLatner and Stunkard demonstrates that the situation has gotten worse. The study replicated a 1961 study of stigma in childhood obesity that asked children to rank six drawings of same-sex children with obesity, various disabilities, or no disability (“healthy”) in order of how well they liked each child. The results were fascinating but sad. Although children in both the 1961 and 2001 studiesliked the drawing of the obese child the least (i.e., less than the other disabilities), the obese child was liked significantly less in the 2001 study than in the 1961 study.
Being overweight can not only lead to cardiovascular, orthopaedic, gastrointestinal, respiratory, hormonal, neurological, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, it can also manifest itself through psychological difficulties,which may require the assistance of a trained professional.
Some residential weight-loss programs for kids combine the psychological therapy with behavior change therapy to improve self-esteem as well as physical health. If your child or a child you know is suffering in some of the ways described above, you may want to consider or suggest a residential weight-loss program.
In people who sufferfrom Eating Disorders it is not uncommon to find other associated psychological disorders that co-exist with their Anorexia, Bulimia and/or Compulsive Overeating. In some cases, their Eating Disorder is a secondary symptom to an underlying psychological disorder (such as some people who also suffer with Multiple Personality Disorder), and in other cases, the psychological disorder may be secondaryto the Eating Disorder (as with some people also suffering with Depression). Men and women may also suffer from both an Eating Disorder and other psychological disorder(s) that completely co-exist with one another... or they can suffer from an Eating Disorder and have little or no signs of an additional psychological disorder (Note: The longer a person suffers, the more probable that they may bedealing with Depression or Anxiety as well). It is important to the recovery process and treatment that all these issues are addressed, and that a proper diagnosis be determined.
Some of the psychological illness that can be (but are not always) found in people suffering with Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating are: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Post Traumatic StressDisorder, BiPolar and BiPolar II Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorders and anxiety, and Dissociative Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder.
In addition, some people suffering with an Eating Disorder may also be exhibiting other addictive or self-destructive behaviors. As an Eating Disorder is a reaction to a low self-esteem, and a negative means of coping with life and stress,...