A person’s bones are not fully formed until he or she reaches the age of 16-20. When a child is overweight or obese, bone growth is hampered by the extra weight. The additional stress on the overweight child’s bones interferes with normal childhood growth and development. According to the United States Bone and Joint Decade, the incidence of childhood obesity-related bone and joint problems is on the rise.

To put it plainly, extra weight can make the bones grow improperly. That can create joint problems, and those joint problems could haunt the child through the rest of his life. As people age, everyone experiences aches and pains. No parents wants her child to endure an adulthood of crippling pain.

At the extreme, too much weight is believed to cause Blount’s Disease in young children. In a toddler afflicted with Blount’s, the leg bows inward, and the shin develops wrong. This gets progressively worse and can have lifelong ramifications. The child may need to wear braces or even have surgery to correct the problem. But how much better it would be if the problem never occurred because the child maintained a healthy weight.

Blount’s Disease, arthritis and cartilage deterioration, are serious, painful problems. And one of the worst things about the pain is that it makes children even less willing to be active. Which makes it likely that the child will grow even more overweight.

Parents must take control of their children’s weight immediately. The sooner, the better – but it’s never too late.

The short-sighted way of approaching mealtime and snacks is to give into a child’s pleas for junk food and too much of it. Parents want to make their children happy, and too often this leads to allowing the child to set the menu. Sometimes parents give in because it’s easier than saying no.

But parents need to take a longer view that children are, by their very nature, incapable of seeing. Children believe they’re invincible. Young children think 25 is old. They do not understand the concept of the pain they might face in their 30s, 40s, and beyond because of the choices they make today.

It’s up to parents to make those tough decisions for their children, and to say “no” when “no” is what should be said.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.