As a parent, you worry about your children’s future, safety, and health. What if you could positively affect all 3? What if you could even reduce your son’s risk of developing colon cancer later in his life? It comes down to a simple thing … like weight.

Understanding The Link

Childhood obesity can lead to many health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Research is now showing a definite link between childhood obesity and the onset of colon cancer. In studying men who were overweight to obese (a BMI above the 84% percentile) in childhood, research shows a 50% increased risk of colon cancer later in life. Since colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the world, reducing the risk is an important consideration for men—especially men who were overweight as children.

Weight Loss Is Key

Research also shows that overweight boys who achieved and maintained a healthy weight as young men carried the same risk as men who maintained a healthy weight throughout childhood and young-adulthood. In other words, there was no increased risk of colon cancer for boys who lost the weight and maintained a healthy weight as young men. Contrast that with the statistic that boys who remain overweight as young men carry twice the risk for colon cancer, and the answer is clear: weight loss is vital in decreasing the risk for colon cancer.

If your child is struggling with being overweight, you need to take it seriously, but don’t despair! It is easy to become discouraged or feel guilty, but being proactive in addressing the problem is the best thing you can do as a parent.

  • Lead by example. Especially as a father, modeling a healthy lifestyle for your son will go a long way. Let him see you eating healthy foods and snacks—less fast food, more water, less sugar, more veggies. Find fun, active things to do together like riding bikes, hiking, camping, or playing basketball.
  • Be a cheerleader. Encouragement and positive reinforcement of good habits will benefit your child’s state-of-mind. Speak highly of the efforts he makes and point out when he succeeds at something difficult. Try not to shame or ridicule when he falls into old habits or makes a poor choice, as this can have an opposite effect and make him feel like a failure.
  • Set him up for success. Stock the cupboards with healthier snacks, and get rid of sugary candies and drinks. Go out to eat less often and serve healthy portions of food at home. Prepare and encourage well-rounded meals that include many food groups. If you need help with cooking healthy, there are many great recipes online.

Generally, it is recommended that men get a colonoscopy at the age of 50, but if you are a man who was overweight as a child, talk to your doctor now about your risk of colon cancer, even if you are not yet 50. If you would like to know more about how your or your child’s weight can affect health or want to understand more about the possible risks for colon cancer, make an appointment today with one of our doctors at Carolina Digestive.