Along with the physical complications caused by childhood obesity, the psychological and emotional problems need to be addressed in order to provide true holistic care. It is imperative for nurses and healthcare providers to understand that obesity does not just affect a child’s physical wellbeing, but also their emotional wellbeing. Studies have shown an association among obese children with: depression, social isolation, discrimination, eating disorders, and poor self-esteem. Some of these problems even exist for children who are overweight and not yet classified as obese.
For growing children there are multiple factors that can affect an obese child’s self-image. Through reviewing multiple studies regarding the emotional effect of obese children, Cornette (2008) found that children ages 12 to 14 years old encountered self-esteem and social functioning issues more so than adolescents (p.139). This may be because children between the ages of 12 and 14 years old are experiencing puberty and it is normal for feelings of insecurity to arise. This fact on top with being obese can affect a child’s self-esteem, self-image, and self-concept. Children are aware of their own body size compared to others in their age group (Munn, Yifan, Moola, & McArthur, 2011, p.954). Also, obese children often times experience teasing and social isolation due to peers judging them based on their outer appearance. Thus discrimination occurs, and obese children are more likely to be a target of bullying and isolation (Munn et al., 2011, p.954).
Age is not the only factor; gender plays an important role. It was found that females reported greater emotional disturbances related to their weight (Cornette, 2008, p.140). Cornette (2008) found studies that reported overweight female children being negatively influenced by the media (p.140). The media is everywhere and it constantly paints the picture of the perfect female body: being thin and beautiful. Being an obese female child and not having the perfect body can cause a plummet in self-esteem; and may even cause eating disorders, anxiety, or depression. Even though the completed research only applied to females, it can be related to males as well. Males experience low self-esteems as well as females. The media portrays a perfect male body as being athletic. The media can have a negative impact on children’s perception regarding their physical and cognitive abilities (Cornette, 2008, p.140).
Families too play an important role in their child’s self-image. It has been reported that girls whose mothers expressed concern about their child’s weight had an increase in a negative self-image (Cornette, 2008, p.140). Parents want what is best for their child, but their concern, whether constant or not, is a part of their child’s self-image. This worry and concern can make the child think that their size or weight is a bad thing. Other times, the parent may react to their child’s obese state differently. Instead of expressing...