Overweight Children With Acid Reflux May Have a Higher Cancer Risk
Obese and overweight children are at a higher risk for many medical issues in adult life. This is also true for acid reflux-related diseases. Recent research found that adolescents who were overweight or obese were twice as likely as their normal weight peers to develop esophageal or gastric cancers as adults (1). The researchers theorized that the increases in cancers was due to weight-related acid reflux disease. More weight, especially in the abdominal area, can push on the stomach and work against the LES. This allows the acid to splash out of the stomach and burn the esophagus. Some of these people may not even know they have a problem until later in life.
Most parents will already know that their child is overweight; they just don't know what to do about it. However, the sooner the issue is dealt with the better off your child's health will be. While many feel they are showing love by feeding their kids whatever they want to eat, in reality the most loving thing to do is give your child a head start with developing life-long healthy eating habits.
The first step is to make an appointment with your child's physician to make sure there are no physical or emotional issues contributing to the problem. Thyroid conditions can make it very hard to loose weight. Emotional eating may also need to be addressed by a therapist trained in adolescent disordered eating.
If your child is medically approved, you can start slowly changing things as a family to benefit their health. Do not single out an overweight child. Gradual changes, like I mentioned in my last blog, can be key to getting a child on board. Huge changes can be too overwhelming.
It is also very important to focus on health when you are dealing with an overweight child. They should not be made to feel like their value is based on a number on the scale. Focus your efforts and discussions on being healthy, strong, more energized and feeling better instead. Make it a family affair so that the environment is set up for success.
Screen time can be a big issue for overweight children. Take a tip from Dr. Jim Sears from The Doctors. For every hour your child spends on screen time, they should have at least as long playing outside or doing something active. More than an hour of screen time, unless it is for homework, is linked to higher rates of obesity so set a timer and limit those video games.
If your child shows interest in a sport, nurture that interest. Even if they don't end up playing competitively, you can still help them get a good workout in by providing fun, physical opportunities to play. For example, one of my girls is very interested in running. So we downloaded a Couch to 5k program this summer and spent mornings at our local park trying it out.
While this task may seem daunting, it is our job as parents to set the example and provide our kids with the best start in life possible! If you have any tips that have worked for your family please post them in the comments! Best wishes!