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Overweight Kids Face More Social Problems Later in Childhood

Kids who are overweight when they are four or five, are more likely to face social problems later in their childhood, suggests an Australian study. The researchers monitored 3,363 Australian kids for four years and found that heavy kids were more likely to experience social difficulties and emotional problems. Experts say this proves that social problems have their roots early in childhood. Therefore, overweight and obesity should be overcome in childhood to prevent future problems, they suggest.

The Study
The research study surveyed the teachers and parents of 3,363 children in Australia. The first interviews were conducted when the kids were around four and five, and later after four years. The researchers gained information on the kids’ social skills, hyperactivity and emotional problems. The kids’ height and weight were also checked to detect overweight and obesity.

The Findings
The researchers found heavier kids were likely to face social problems such as teasing and isolation, later in childhood. Heavy kids were also more likely to cause concerns to their teachers regarding emotional development. The researchers say the study is important because it is essential to gauge kids’ social life in school. School children’s peer relationships or lack of it have a great impact on their mental health later in life, they opine.

Mental Impact of Obesity
The research findings have been reported in Pediatrics journal. The authors opine overweight and obesity can make kids more reserved and introverted, because they may fear being teased. Previous research has revealed that bullies are more likely to target obese children. Other research studies reveal that obese adults are more likely to develop mental ailments like anxiety or depression. The researchers say they will continue monitoring the heavy kids as they grow older to see whether their social problems translate into mental health issues later in life.

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