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Healthy Eating in Children: Problems Caused by Poor Nutrition

Overview

Children with poor eating habits don't get the amounts of nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. This can lead to being underweight or overweight.

Children who are poorly nourished tend to have weaker immune systems, which increases their chances of illness. They are more likely to develop certain long-term health problems. These include:

  • Bone thinning (osteoporosis) in later life.
  • Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) diseases. Eating foods high in fat, sugar, and salt as a child can increase the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in adulthood.
  • Type 2 diabetes. In children, this disease is linked to being overweight, being physically inactive, and having a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain breathing problems, such as asthma in children who are overweight.

Being overweight puts children at risk for:

  • Liver problems.
  • Problems with hip development or bone growth in the legs.
  • Gallstones.
  • Early puberty.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a hormone imbalance that can cause problems with a girl's periods and other health problems.

Doctors regularly screen children for signs of these health problems.

Credits

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator