Researchers continue to learn more about obesity – which continues to produce bad news.
Two new, unrelated studies in particular illustrate the damage that being overweight can cause to children and teens.
The first, which appeared in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, found that obese children with pain in their lower extremities – that is, the feet, ankles, knees and hips – are worse off than obese kids who are free of that pain.
Which makes sense. Specifically, the study found that obese children with lower-extremity pain have worse physical and psychological function, which in turn affects their emotions, their social life and their academic performance negatively.
It's still unclear whether the pain interferes with obese children's levels of physical activity, but researchers do know that as the pain gets worse, so does the child's quality of life. It's also clear that obese children with extremity pain may be less likely to comply with weight management programs because they're in too much pain.
The second study, which was in Clinical Endocrinology, found that obese teen boys between 14 and 20 have up to 50 percent less testosterone than their normal-weight counterparts, which could mean impotence and infertility down the line.
Researchers had previously seen reduced testosterone levels in obese diabetic men, and were "surprised to observe" a similar trend in non-diabetic men who were obese.
As if the potential reproductive percussions weren't enough, the study's authors also found that a lack of or low levels of testosterone could increase the likelihood of fat around the waistline and reduced muscle – a recipe for insulin resistance, which can easily become diabetes.
The researchers know that gastric bypass surgery will restore testosterone levels back to normal in obese adult males, but they're looking into whether diet, exercise or medication can accomplish the same thing for teens.
Photo by David Goehring via Flickr Creative Commons.