Exceeding the healthy weight range tips the scale towards obesity, a condition associated with an array of physical afflictions – from heart diseases and type 2 diabetes to sleep apnea and high blood pressure. Yet, amidst the well-documented health concerns, a lesser-known question emerges: Can obesity also cast a shadow over your height growth? In this comprehensive exploration, we dive into the intricate relationship between obesity and vertical development.
Are obesity and overweight different?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with weight ranges above what is typically regarded as healthy for their height are classified as overweight and obese.
Body mass index (BMI) is calculated annually based on a child’s weight, height, age, and sex and helps determine the healthy weight ranges in children and adults. Children who are overweight have a BMI between, at, or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile. Children who have obesity are those whose BMI is higher than the 95th percentile.
What causes obesity?
There are many reasons why a person can be obese. Here are some of the most common causes.
When people consume more calories than they expend through exercise, they gain weight. A good weight can be maintained by limiting high-fat and high-calorie foods.
The environment we live in has an impact on our capacity to keep a healthy weight. For instance, it is difficult for people to be physically active when there are no nearby parks, walkways, or reasonably priced gyms.
A person’s susceptibility to weight increase is also influenced by their genes. According to research, genes may increase a person’s risk of being obese . However, other factors, like a plentiful food supply or little physical activity, can also cause a person to be overweight.
Being obese can result from certain health issues, such as Cushing syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or an underactive thyroid. Additionally, corticosteroids, antidepressants, and seizure medications can lead to weight gain.
Rapid mood swings
People who are easily bored, angry, upset, or stressed can eat more than normal, which can make them more likely to be overweight or obese.
How does obesity affect height growth?
Obesity can have many negative impacts on children, including stunting their growth in height. Despite having noticeably shorter heights by puberty than other children, obese children’s bones typically develop more quickly.
Here is how obesity can affect a child’s bone development:
- SCFE: By increasing the forces on the proximal femoral growth plate, obesity can make a child more likely to have Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE).
- Blount’s Disease: Blount’s disease is quite prevalent among adolescents who are obese. Blount’s disease is a tibial deformity brought on by strain and overload on the lateral and medial sides of the proximal tibial growth plate (outside).
- Fractures: Children who are obese are more likely to experience injuries such as broken bones.
- Foot & Leg Pain: Flat feet brought on by obesity can be unpleasant and challenging to treat.
- Other Issues: Obese patients are also more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and obstructive sleep apnea, all of which make recovery from operation more challenging.
Because obese people’s bones must support more weight, which can result in fractures in the event of an impact, obese adolescents are more likely to sustain bone and joint injuries. It will be more difficult for the bone to grow and there may be deformity of the bone, which can impact the size of the fracture where the next cartilage is not on the bone. As a result, children can not reach their maximum height as they get older due to weaker bones and slower development.
How to avoid obesity?
Obesity prevention for children
Provide growing children with a balanced diet.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children don’t need a lot of food. Between the ages of 1 and 3, every inch of height should equal roughly 40 calories of food intake. Encourage elder kids to become familiar with different portion sizes.
Build early relationships with healthy foods
From an early age, encourage your child to eat a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and proteins. They might be more inclined to include these foods in their diets as they get older.
Eat healthy foods as a family
When families adjust their food habits, kids are able to learn healthy eating at a young age. This will make it simpler for them to maintain healthy eating routines as they get older.
Limit unhealthy foods in the household
You should try to keep healthy foods in the cupboard and refrigerator, and only allow less healthy snacks occasionally as a treat.
Incorporate fun and exciting physical activity
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that children and teenagers should engage in physical exercise for at least 60 minutes each day to stay healthy.
Limit screen time
Less time for exercise often results in more time spent in front of screens. To maintain a healthy weight, it’s essential to prioritize sleep and exercise over screen time on the computer or television.
Make sure your kid gets enough sleep
According to research, people who don’t get enough sleep may end up weighing more. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a healthy sleeping habit should include a sleep plan, a bedtime routine, and a comfortable pillow and mattress.
Obesity prevention for adults
Limit “bad” fat intake and increase “healthy” fat intake
Not all fat is harmful. According to a 2017 study in the Nutrition Journal, consuming good dietary fats like polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol levels as well as the chance of obesity .
Reduce your intake of manufactured and sugary food
An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study from 2016 found a connection between eating processed and ultra-processed foods and a higher risk of obesity . The elevated levels of fat, salt, and sugar in many processed foods can lead to overeating. Thus, if you are an adult who wants to avoid the risk of obesity, consume less sugary food.
Increase your intake of fruits and veggies
An average person should eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Including plenty of fruit and vegetables in your dish can help you consume fewer calories and lower your risk of overeating.
Consume a lot of nutritional fiber
Studies keep demonstrating that eating fiber helps people maintain their weight. In a 2012 study, participants who consumed a fiber complex supplement three times per day for 12 weeks saw a weight loss of up to 5% .
Eat primarily meals with a low glycemic index
A scale called the glycemic index (GI) is used to determine how fast a food will increase your blood sugar. Concentrating on low-GI meals can help maintain more stable blood sugar levels, which can aid in weight control.
Include your friends and family in your journey
Social support is essential as well. Getting others engaged, whether through cooking with the family or taking walks with friends, can support the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
Obesity can hurt one’s ability to naturally grow taller as well as their general and mental well-being. You can lose weight by eating healthy, increasing physical activity, and making other adjustments to regular routines. If you need more help, you can always see a doctor about your condition. A doctor may offer more professional advice in these circumstances, such as weight-loss medicine, devices, or bariatric surgery.
Can obesity affect height growth during puberty?
Yes, obesity can disrupt the natural timing of puberty, leading to suboptimal growth during this critical period.
Is there a specific age range where obesity has the most significant impact on height?
Obesity during childhood and adolescence can have lasting effects on height, but its impact can vary based on individual factors.
Can losing weight help recover lost height due to obesity?
In some cases, weight loss can help alleviate the pressure on growth plates, allowing for some degree of recovery in height.
Are there any height-enhancing surgeries available for individuals affected by obesity-related height issues?
Height-enhancing surgeries exist, but they come with risks and should only be considered after thorough medical consultation.
What role do genetics play in the height-obesity relationship?
Genetics influence an individual’s height potential and their susceptibility to obesity, but lifestyle factors also play a significant role.
In conclusion, obesity can have a profound impact on height growth, particularly in children and adolescents. It can lead to various skeletal and physiological complications that hinder natural growth and development. However, obesity is a preventable and treatable condition. By adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and making healthier lifestyle choices, individuals can reduce their risk of obesity and its adverse effects on height and overall health. Seeking medical guidance and support is crucial for those struggling with obesity, as healthcare professionals can provide tailored advice, interventions, and treatments to address this complex issue.