Overweight children are more likely to struggle with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and poor academic performance.

The emotional toll of obesity in children
 Did you know that obesity in kids has been called “one of the most stigmatising and least socially acceptable conditions in childhood” by health care professionals?

Not only are health costs related to paediatric obesity, but your child’s weight issue is also inextricably linked to their emotional wellbeing.

Stigma in society

Living with extra kilos can be heart-breaking for children who are overweight. The social stigma associated with being overweight can be just as harmful to a child as the physical diseases and disorders frequently accompanying obesity. In a society where body size is scrutinised, research reveals that children as young as six years old may identify negative stereotypes with obesity and assume that a big child is simply less likeable.

School bullying and self-esteem

True, some overweight children are popular with their classmates, feel good about themselves, and have a lot of self-confidence. However, if your child is obese, they are more likely than their thinner peers to have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem might lead to feelings of shame about their body, and a lack of self-confidence can contribute to poor academic achievement.


Obese children often feel lonely and are less likely to describe themselves as “popular” or “cool”. They may become withdrawn or prefer to not engage in activities they used to enjoy.

In an ironic twist, some overweight children may seek emotional solace in food, adding even more calories to their plates as their paediatricians and parents urge them to eat less. Add to that the emotional ups and downs of life, such as the stress of relocating to a new community, academic troubles, the death of a parent, or a divorce, and some children routinely overeat.


Other obesity-related consequences persist long beyond puberty and beyond. Heavy teenagers and adults may encounter discrimination purely because of their weight. According to some data, they are less likely to be admitted to a top university. They may also have a lower probability of finding decent jobs than their slimmer counterparts. Overweight women have a worse chance of dating or finding a marriage partner.

What can I do if my child is severely overweight?

Overweight children grow up to be overweight adults, leading to health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some malignancies.

According to research, children who achieve a healthy weight are fitter, healthier, more able to learn, and more self-confident. They are also less likely to be bullied and have low self-esteem.

You can do many things as a parent to assist your child in losing weight. It is critical to encourage them to be more active and eat healthily.

  • Pay attention to your child’s weight concerns. Overweight children frequently recognise that they have a weight problem and need to feel supported and in control of their weight.
  • Tell them that you love them, regardless of their weight, and that all you want is for them to be well and happy.
  • Be an excellent role model. If your child sees you leading an active and healthy lifestyle, they will be more inclined to do the same.
  • Promote fewer screen hours and encourage your child to spend more time actively playing outdoors. If you let them choose the type of activity they prefer, they are more likely to keep to their new activity levels.
  • Any dietary and lifestyle adjustments you make for your child are much more likely to be accepted if they are small and involve the entire family.
  • All children require approximately 60 minutes of physical activity each day for excellent health, but this does not have to be done all at once. Several 10-minute or even 5-minute bursts of movement throughout the day might be just as beneficial as an hour-long stretch. Active play, such as ball games, chasing games, riding a scooter, and using playground swings, climbing frames, and see-saws, can benefit younger children.
  • Don’t force your child to eat everything on their plate or eat more than they want.
  • Avoid high-calorie foods. Calories are a unit of measurement for the amount of energy in food. Knowing how many calories your child consumes each day and matching it with the amount of energy they expend in activity will assist them in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Learn about healthy packed lunches. Children, like adults, should try to consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. They are high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Don’t pack your child sugary or high-fat foods such as sweets, cakes, cookies, some sugary cereals, and sugar-sweetened soft and fizzy beverages.
  • The less sleep children get, the more likely they are to become obese. Sleep deprivation can also have an impact on their attitude and behaviour. Ensure that your child has enough sleep every night.
  • Speak to your family doctor to rule out any possible medical reasons for your child’s weight. Your doctor may also recommend that your child sees a dietician.

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