Long-term health problems related to poor nutrition as a child

Children who eat poorly are more likely to develop certain long-term health problems and complications, including:

  • Osteoporosis in later life.
  • Cardiovascular diseases. Growing up eating foods high in fat, sugar, and salt can increase the risk for developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis as an adult.1
  • Type 2 diabetes , which in children is linked to being overweight, being physically inactive, and having a family history of diabetes.
  • Certain breathing problems, such as asthma in overweight children.1

Complications of being overweight include liver problems, problems with hip development (slipped capital femoral epiphysis) or bone growth in the legs, gallstones, early puberty, and polycystic ovary syndrome.1

Your child's doctor regularly screens for signs of these health problems. If your child needs treatment, work with your child's doctor to ensure that your child is getting the best medical care possible, both at home and at medical checkups. Keep your child's relationship with food separate from his or her medical condition. And guide your child's eating with healthy food choices. Avoid putting your child on a weight-loss diet.

Citations

  1. Skelton JA, Rudolph C (2007). Overweight and obesity. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 232–242. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Last Updated: September 8, 2009

Author: Christine Wendt, R.D., L.D.

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Diabetes Educator

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