The Emotional Side of Childhood Obesity

What are your top emotions when you see an overweight or obese child?

Obesity in children
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joe_13

I asked this question on Twitter recently. When it comes to the topic of childhood obesity, there is no shortage of statistics. Obesity rates have tripled. Nearly 1 in 3 is either overweight or obese. A 13 year old obese child has clogged arteries just like a 45 year old. 23 million children are in the danger of never being grand parents. Health care costs of treating obesity related diseases is in billions of dollars.

You get the point. There is no shortage of numbers and research on childhood obesity.

I have been thinking about this issue quite a lot lately. Not only because the month of September has been declared as the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Not also because I have written about this issue extensively in the past and I remain convinced that we must address childhood obesity NOW. Not because the media seems to not care about this issue anymore and Jamie Oliver’s TV show is no longer hitting prime time.

But mainly because it is depressing to realize that so many of our children seem destined to live a life of unfulfilled promise and poor health.

And I think I am just beginning to pay a little more attention to how I feel rather than try to understand the numbers and rationalize the proposed solutions.

Here are a few comments from my Twitter friends:

@RDAmber said

1. Sadness followed by 2. Anger and if I see them in an outpatient setting 3. Joy because at least I have a chance to help!

@JLevinsonRD shared her feelings:

sad, sorry, and wish there was something I could do for him/her.

@80Bites responded:

Compassion. And frustration, because we could help them!

@InspiredRD shared a whole range of emotions:

All of the above RT @TwinToddlersDad Anger, Sadness, Frustration, Despair? What do you feel when you see or read about childhood obesity?

@myH_Nutrition shared her optimism:

Happy. Michelle O is doing something monumental about it.

So how do you feel about childhood obesity? What kinds of emotions do you experience? Do you feel angry, sad, frustrated or hopeless? Or a completely different emotion? Share your reactions and emotions in comments below.




  1. Jenna

    seeing overweight kids hurts my heart. an obese child has a very low chance of ever having a normal body weight, thus a healthy body with properly functioning organs. maybe there will be more hope for them as our nation realizes our eating habits must drastically change. i think there is more awareness but i don’t know how far behind that real change.

  2. Maryann Jacobsen

    I’m not sure why but I feel hopeful of change. Child obesity rates have leveled off (for the most part). The key is prevention and in time things will get better!!

  3. i totally agree that this is a very emotional topic but rightly so its the kids life’s at stake. Its good to know the topic is being address but its going to be a hard struggle

  4. Lynn Lamb

    Thank you so much for writing about the emotional side of eating. It is so true that we turn to comfort food when things are not a great as we want them to be.

    There is another side to emotional eating too. The guilt we place on our children to “eat it all up.” As a mother, I have stopped myself more than once from saying “Eat everything on your plate.” I have also seen mothers look disappointed when their children leave something aside.

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