Childhood Obesity connected to Under Active Thyroid

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on




If you are a parent of an overweight child this is may be emotionally difficult to read. This post has been written to provide educational information that you may already know or may not be aware of. The purpose is to provide educational information regarding what may occur if changes are not made and habits continue. If you are struggling and are concerned about your child's weight and don’t know how to make the first change, I am here to help and will support and guide you without judgement. Your child's health is important to me as well as their emotional health. 


Let's begin

The number of overweight children in Australia has doubled in recent years. In 2007-2008 around a quarter of the nation’s children were overweight or obese and it is still increasing. The increases where more noticeable in the female age group of 13 – 17 years. It is now becoming more noticeable even younger than this.

Young people aged 15–24 in 2017–18 were more likely to be overweight or obese than those in 1995 and 2007–08.

This epidemic of childhood obesity has become one of the biggest health emergencies in developed countries, including Australia. “They are just children, let them be children and they will grow out of it” some people say, but there are consequences and sometimes serious consequences that occur as a result of being in the obese category as a child.

One of the most notable concerns are the changes to the thyroid, it appears to become altered in obese children. It is however, unknown whether it is the chicken or the egg. Did the thyroid become altered first and cause the weight gain or did the weight gain cause the thyroid to become altered? This may come down to each individuals genetics, however it is the environment that they are exposed to that will trigger this in particular NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES.  There are certain nutrients that are needed just for the thyroid to function and your thyroid controls your metabolism. If your child is a fussy eater and eating what I call the beige diet then they won't be getting enough nutrients and their thyroid becomes underactive. Not necessarily to the point where thyroid medication is needed but definitely to the point where their metabolism is affected and weight gain starts. 

Something can be done especially at a young age to prevent the serious autoimmune consequences of an altered thyroid and to reverse these functional and structural alterations.


Childhood obesity also increases the risk of:

-Developing diabetes at a young age,

-Increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure at an earlier age

-Increased chances of infertility

-Developing autoimmune diseases such as Hashimotos

-Developing Cushing’s disease at an early age - signs include: rounded face, fatty deposits around face, upper back between shoulder blades and neck, pink or purple stretch marks, weight gain around abdomen, fat loss on arms and legs, muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of emotional control, depression, anxiety, headaches, feeling irritable plus more.

-It can lead to complications of sleep including sleep apnoea and insomnia.

-It can lead to hip and joint problems that latter on in life may require surgery.

There is also a higher risk of developing psychological and social problems such as

o Discrimination
o Victimisation
o Bullying
o Low self esteem
o Depression
o Poor body image
o Eating disorders

These conditions lead to a lifetime of medications and hospital visits for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease etc. And to think, this could all be avoided with some simple changes now.


So, what has changed to cause the increase in statistics of childhood obesity?

The number one reason for this increase is


So many additives, colours, and flavours are now in our everyday food. We are reaching for convenience food all day, everyday. Everything we are eating is processed and in the procedure of processing we are altering the chemical structure of our food. Through the 70s and 80s there was a big shift to cut the fat out of our food, when the fat is cut out of food, so too is the flavour, the flavour part was replaced with sugar, sugar and more sugar, with the addition of colours, and flavourings but it was when they began to add the fats back in that were not the best choices of fats and still continue to have the sugars in there? This is when the problems began.

The increase in the amount of sugar combined with fat consumed from a young age is staggering. This amount of sugar/fat combos that are being consumed not only can lead to the consequences of obesity such as thyroid changes, and impact on heart disease but also early onset Non alcoholic fatty liver disease and gall bladder emergency surgery to either remove part of the liver and/or the gall bladder. The consequences are serious!!!! 

They won’t grow out of it!!!!

It won’t get better by itself!!!

You as the adult MUST make this change for them as they are only children. Even 16-18year old’s are still children in their decision making.

Other contributing factors to the increase in childhood obesity include:

- Lack of physical exercise, whilst there are still many children who are active either in organised sports or just with their family, there are still a large number of these children who are overweight and a large number not participating. No matter how hard they exercise and train for the game, the weight just doesn’t come off. This is linked to the food being consumed.

- Spending a large amount of time watching tv or on electronic devices. Once again is linked to food. Too many calories consumed and not enough burnt off leads to increased weight. More than 1 hour a day on a device has been shown to increase suicidal ideation and what are we seeing more of? Children with anxiety and depression. Get them off the devices and get them outside.

- Genetics can also be a factor. This is rare though and really only contributes about 5% of the problem even if it is, it is often used as an excuse even when it is not always factual. They often say genetics loads the gun but diet and lifestyle pull the trigger. It can be worked with if it is diagnosed and in this situation, it becomes extra important to make healthy food choices.

- Overweight parents – unfortunately as an adult who becomes a parent you are now responsible for making adult decisions. Sometimes you don’t want to “adult” and just want to eat chocolate and ice cream, but you have to be the adult. These decisions include the food that your child eats. If you are overweight and so is your child you know that if they have to give up the junk food then you do too. Sometimes that can be a difficult decision because you either eat emotionally, are addicted to sugar or may be carbohydrate intolerant and just gain weight by looking at carbs. When you become emotionally attached to food you find more ways to justify your child eating the same food as you because it makes you feel better about the food and about yourself. Unfortunately, this becomes a constant cycle for generations.

There is good news. We can make changes.  At the beginning stages there will be a need for supplementation to help catch up and the nutrient deficiencies, repair digestive system, re balance gut bacteria and then some lifestyle changes need to be made as well then once this happens you will be able to control all of this on your own without my help.  That is my ultimate goal for ALL of my patient, for them to not need me.

Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 

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With over 30 years of experience working with children and teenagers, Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a practitioner. Her deep understanding of children, their body language, behavioral patterns, and health conditions sets her apart.

Melissa's career spans various roles, including Group Leader, Early Childhood Teacher, Director, and Operations Manager. She has successfully transformed numerous childcare centers into vibrant educational spaces, fueled by her unwavering passion for children. Now, she combines this passion with her extensive knowledge and experience in natural medicine.

In addition to her work with children and teenagers, Melissa excels in teaching parents and educators, empowering them to comprehend children's behaviors. She has conducted numerous seminars, equipping parents and fellow educators with valuable insights. Melissa has also collaborated with various departments within Qld Health to enhance teaching skills and deepen understanding of children.

Melissa's educational background is just as impressive, with two degrees—a teaching degree and a Health Science degree in Naturopathy. Her dedication and commitment shine through as she passionately serves families, bringing over 20 years of invaluable experience to her practice.

At Pinnacle Holistic Health, common children's health conditions receive expert care and attention, including difficulty sleeping, low energy, loss of interest, skin reactions, acne, weight management and dietary advice, stress, gut health and digestive disorders, parasites, weakened immunity, earaches, anxiety, insecurities, ADHD, and Autism.

But it doesn't stop there. Melissa also provides support for parents, addressing conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed, and offering valuable parenting guidance and advice. She understands the challenges parents face and is dedicated to helping them navigate the journey with confidence.

Melissa is here to support you and your family on your path to optimal health and well-being. With her wealth of experience, deep compassion, and unwavering commitment, you can trust Melissa to provide personalized care and guide you towards a brighter, healthier future.

Take the first step towards a thriving family. Schedule a consultation with Melissa today and discover the transformative power of natural medicine in supporting your children's health and your own. Let's embark on this journey together, with Melissa by your side.

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