If you are inhaling second-hand smoke (SHS), it is almost as bad as smoking the cigarette yourself. And it is even more harmful for children. When children breathe in the smoke coming from the burning end of a cigarette, they are automatically taking in thousands of toxic chemicals residing in cigarette smoke. Many of the toxins stay on in our body, damaging our vital systems from within. Children are especially vulnerable to these passive smoking risks, as their lungs and other organs are still developing. SHS affects our children’s health in more ways than one. SHS-exposed kids are more prone to developing bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Breathing SHS triggers asthma attacks in small children. It may intensify the symptoms in kids born with asthma to a level where they may need hospitalization. A recent research however, reveals more startling facts about the effects of passive smoking on children. Conducted in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in US, the study revealed that exposure to passive smoking may make children obese, and as we all know, obese people are more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The Findings of the Study
The research was conducted on over two hundred overweight boys and girls in the age group of 7 to 11 years. All these pre-teen children had one thing in common – all of them were exposed to passive smoking. The researchers talked to their parents to understand the level of their exposure, and also tested their blood samples for the presence of cotinine, a substance widely used to determine the extent of smoking or SHS exposure. In addition, levels of physical activity were also assessed, as this is directly related to the amount of body fat, sleeping pattern and diabetes risk.
Put on Weight: The research found that the tendency of adiposity increases with the children’s exposure to passive smoking. The more exposed they are to toxins coming out of cigarettes, the fatter they are. The fat tends to get deposited in the midriff, as a result of which, the smoke-exposed kids tend to have a bigger belly and larger waist size, than their peers. Thanks to their massive body-size, these kids are most likely to experience obesity-related health issues in their later lives.
Affects Cognition: Passive smoking does not only make children fatter, but also dull. The researchers found a direct link between the exposure to second hand smoke and weakened cognitive abilities. According to the research team, all the smoke-exposed children have shown poor cognitive abilities. In fact, every single one of them has scored poorly in all cognitive tests. Poor cognition may result into a poorer attention span, lower grades in school and all standardized tests
How Passive Smoking Affects Your Kid’s Body Weight
According to professor Linda Pagani, who led a similar study in the University of Montreal and its affiliate CHU Sainte Justine Research Center cited several reasons to explain the connection between early exposure to smoking and increased risks of obesity in children. According to Pagani, exposure to secondhand smoke causes endocrine imbalances, subsequently impacting the kid’s neuro-developmental functions. At this stage, the hypothalamus – the part of the brain responsible for certain metabolic processes – is at a developmental stage. Passive smoking badly impacts the normal functioning of this part of their brain, resulting in obesity, and related disorders.
Obesity is dangerous, as it increases your child’s risks for several metabolic diseases including diabetes in later life. It is estimated that 40 percent of the world’s children population is exposed to passive smoking risks right in their own homes. We hope the findings of all these adverse health scenarios will encourage their parents to give up the addiction. A responsible parent must choose between the sin stick and a smoke-free lifestyle.