The primary consequences of obesity and its effects on children are cognitive learning impairment and poor health. Some kids are able to overcome poor health and high weight consequences during their teens or early adult lives, but the longer term effects that childhood obesity brings to bear on cognitive learning are often irreparable.
For most children, their learning and mental development takes place on a natural timeline, but when that timeline is hindered or delayed, it’s difficult to recover the opportunities of those lost years. For example, most health experts agree that if a child hasn’t made real progress in developing critical language skills by a certain young age, those skills may never be fully developed.
To learn more about how to battle obesity and help your child’s cognitive development, keep reading.
Play is Exercise and Exercise is Great
A brief run around a playground will do a lot more benefit than simply help an obese child’s physical health – it may also improve his or her thinking and cognitive skills.
In a September 2005 study published by the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, behavioral scientists and doctors learned that obese children who increased their physical activity levels by as much as 20 minutes three times per week scored significantly higher on a cognitive assessment systems test than obese children who did not.
Not only were the children who played and exercised better at problem solving and retaining information, but they were also physically healthier. And they had more fun.
Healthy Food Equals a Healthy Mind
A major cause of obesity and its effects on children’s cognitive learning is unhealthy, highly processed foods. A poor diet not only leads to dangerous weight gain, but it can also impede mental capabilities.
A November 2007 study completed at Harvard Medical School showed that children who habitually ate a diet consisting of high amounts of lean proteins, complex carbs, low sugars and low amounts of overly processed or refined foods tended to score noticeably higher on cognitive assessment tests than children who consumed diets high in processed sugars, saturated fats and refined or chemical ingredients.
Developing a Taste for Nutritious Food
For a diet that’s packed full of “brain food” and healthy choices, opt for selections such as wild-caught fish, flax seed, dark green vegetables, eggs, and whole grains, such as quinoa or whole grain rice.
These basic foods can be jazzed up a bit so they don’t appear or taste bland to children. In fact, when your children begin to acquire a taste for such foods, it’s fairly typical that over time they will actually begin to prefer them over less nutritious meals and empty snacks.
Iron deficiency is another major cause of declined cognitive function, according to the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center. So reach for extra lean beef cuts, which also packs a lot of zinc and is great for memory improvement.
Of the most significant consequences of obesity and its impact on children, cognitive learning impairment is likely the least reversible.
So, resist the temptation to purchase processed and refined foods, and start your child on a path to solid development with healthy meals and regular exercise. Neither you nor they will regret it.