New Study On An American Epidemic Sounds The Alarm For Parents

In today’s “anything goes” culture, parents seem to face an uphill battle in raising our children.

There are so many new concerns for modern parents – from leftist indoctrination, to online safety, to hazardous chemicals in our environment.

And if that wasn’t enough to cause us worry, a new study has reached a startling conclusion about how a common problem in the U.S. can affect our children.

Processed foods, excessive sugar, and the ease of picking up dinner by running through the local fast food place have all led to the rise of an obesity epidemic in our nation.

We are likely aware of the dangers to adults – heart disease, diabetes, and increased risk of cancer.  But what does obesity do to our kids’ vulnerable developing bodies?

A new study conducted at Brown University focused on studying the effects of obesity on our children.  With a startling twenty percent of children between the ages of 2 and 18 considered overweight or obese, the study has great significance. reported:

Nan Li, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate in Brown’s Department of Epidemiology, worked with a team of researchers to look at how early-life obesity might affect school-aged children down the road. And what they discovered was worrisome; children who were overweight or obese in the first two years of their life had lower reasoning skills, struggled more with perception, and worse working memories than their leaner same-age children when tested between the ages of 5 to 8 years old.

According to the study, severe weight gain can change the way our hormones work in several areas of the brain. To get a full sense of the picture, the research team looked at children whose weight before the age of two years old was known and were followed over time via home visits by trained staff.

The children also underwent a series of cognitive tests like a series of computerized games to measure a child’s spatial-visual memory, sequencing tests to determine working memory, and tests to assess perceptual reasoning.

While researchers found that weight status did not necessarily change the way children performed in some tests, it did seem to make a significant difference in three areas: IQ, working memory, and perceptual reasoning.

Li and the researchers note that along with these disturbing findings, children who struggle with their weight from a young age also suffer from low self-esteem and confidence, teasing and bullying, and other emotional problems.

And children who already struggle with being overweight or obese are far less likely to stay active or join athletic activities, creating a vicious cycle with serious complications.

While much has been studied about the physical implications of childhood obesity leading to increased risk of disease later on, this study shows that children’s brains are literally being harmed by unhealthy habits.

The areas of focus in the study that link obesity to lower academic success say these deficiencies can affect success in all areas later in life – from job performance to keeping household finances.

Unhealthy food is all around us and is part of American culture – we are a nation addicted to fast food and sugar — and our children are paying the price.

And the rise in technology has led to an all-time low in activity levels.  Instead of going out to play as we always did as kids, our children are surrounded by the desire to spend time with their tech devices and video games.

While the study was conducted on a fairly small scale, there is significant concern on the part of experts to warrant further study.

For now, the results of the study are just one more reason for parents to encourage healthy eating habits and activity in our children.

From the time our kids are small, it is important for us to model these healthy habits and avoid offering processed or fast foods on a regular basis.

In addition to the health benefits to our children, getting out of the house for some outdoor activity can increase family bonding and do wonders for our kids’ self-esteem and confidence.

What do you think of the startling results of this study?  Were you aware that childhood obesity can actually affect a child’s intelligence and performance?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.