Over 130 million people in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. The number of overweight adults has doubled, and since 1980 the number of overweight children and adolescents has tripled.
A Clear Link – Obesity and Vision Loss
Carrying excess weight puts too much pressure on blood vessels located in the eyes. These vessels are delicate and can be damaged easily, causing poor vision. The higher a child’s BMI (body mass index) , the more likely he/she is to develop eye diseases associated with obesity.
Cardiovascular disease and diabetes can cause vision loss. Excess body weight predisposes a child to these medical conditions. Type 2 diabetes affects the way a child’s body uses sugar (glucose). A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol and excess abdominal fat put children at risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other health problems.
The heart plays an important role in distributing blood to all areas of the body that need it. Blood flow and oxygen delivery are affected if there are issues with a child’s heart. This can lead to issues in all areas of the body, including the eyes.
Diabetes can cause irreversible damage to the retina and permanent vision loss. Even a child with controlled diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy so it is important that they have yearly diabetic eye exams.
Poor Diet and Sedentary Lifestyle
If a child eats a poor diet, he/she can develop high blood pressure or high cholesterol which contributes to buildup of plaques in the arteries. These plaques can cause arteries to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke later in life.
Watching TV or playing on electronic devices like computers or cell phones is linked to children being overweight and obese. This sedentary time is time they could be spending being physically active. Kids are more likely to snack on foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat when they watch TV.
Make a difference to the health and well-being of a child by encouraging him/her to give up 30 minutes of daily small screen recreation time in exchange for physical activity. Limit total daily screen time to 2 hours per day.