To Eat or Not To Eat

Childhood obesity is an increasingly alarming phenomenon in the United States. Children are too young to realize the detrimental effects of unhealthy eating. If you’re parents or caregivers, it’s your responsibility to monitor the dietary schedule and lifestyle habits of your children. You must ensure that your children do not overeat to the point of obesity.

Prior research illustrates strong links between childhood obesity and a predisposition to develop detrimental health complications such as high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes. Recent research has added another risk to the list of health complications: the onset of multiple sclerosis. Researchers have laid particular emphasis on the vulnerability of girls to this health risk. Here are some of the causes of multiple sclerosis and how childhood obesity facilitates and furthers this condition.

A Major Cause of Multiple Sclerosis: Obesity

Most children reach the obesity point with a BMI (Body Mass Index) that exceeds 30. Overweight children fall within the 25 to 29.9 BMI range. You must be familiar with the basic concept of obesity: it is a health condition in which the individual has excess body fat. To be specific, if an individual’s body weight is 20% more than the normal body weight based on age and height, he or she is considered to be obese.

There are of course, varying degrees of obesity. Individuals whose body weight is between 50 to 100% of the normal body weight are considered morbidly obese. Morbid obesity puts individuals at a high risk of suffering from several health complications that can hamper normal functioning and quality of life.

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease related to the immune functioning of the body. The immune system takes to attacking the important nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include overall body weakness, loss of balance and stability, numbness, and tremors. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports that this disease is a rarity among children.

Only one or two children in every 100,000 suffer from multiple sclerosis. Researchers however, caution that obesity can cause an increase in the incidence of the disease among children. This suggests that obesity is one of the major causes of multiple sclerosis.

Research: The Dangers of Morbid Obesity

While some critics write the research findings off as a mere association, it is important to note that these results were only limited to obese girls. Obese boys did not yield the same results. Dr. Annette Langer-Gould, one of the main researchers of this study. She discovered, along with her team, that girls who were morbidly obese (on the standardized measure with a BMI of at least 35) were at a higher risk of being diagnosed with sclerosis. In fact, morbid obesity has a four times higher chance of causing multiple sclerosis. This link proved to be stronger in teenagers than in children. Research findings suggest that the production of the female hormone estrogen coupled with the inflammation caused by obesity, causes multiple sclerosis. This is why girls are at a higher risk for multiple sclerosis.

Parents and caregivers of obese girls and teenagers must monitor the health of girls under their care consistently. A decrease in body weight, adoption of a healthy dietary schedule, and implementation of healthy lifestyle habits (such as exercise) are of utmost importance. You should also consult a doctor immediately if symptoms such as tingling, limb weakness, or numbness appear. Don’t forget, obesity causes multiple sclerosis in girls. Don’t take it lightly; act now to keep your children safe and healthy.