Child Obesity and Community

community environmentThe impact of community environment on childhood obesity

Childhood obesity no doubt is influenced by the environment we living. Community environment is also one of the major causes of childhood obesity (see childhood obesity causes) in shaping the habits and perceptions of children and adolescents. Community environment influences access to physical activity opportunity and access to affordable and healthy foods (see childhood obesity & food). For example, a lack of secure bike paths, sidewalks, and parks in neighborhoods can depress children from walking or biking to school as well as take part in physical activity (see childhood obesity & physical activity). In addition, lack of access to affordable, healthy food choices in neighborhood fast food (see childhood obesity fast food) markets can be a obstacle to purchasing healthy foods.

The popularity of television advertisements promoting (see childhood obesity advertising) unhealthy foods and eating habits is a great contributor. Additionally, children are surrounded by environmental influences that demote the importance of physical exercise (see childhood obesity & exercise). Today, it is estimated that around 40 to 50 percent of every dollar that is spent on food outside the home in restaurants, cafeterias, sporting events, etc. In addition, as portion sizes have increased, when people eat out they tend to eat a larger quantity of diet (see childhood obesity & diet) than when they eat at home.

child obesity and community

Beverages such as soda and juice boxes also greatly contribute to the child obesity epidemic. It is not uncommon for a 32 ounce soda to be marketed toward children, which contains approximately 400 calories. The consumption of soda by children has increased during the last 20 years by 300 percent. Scientific studies have recognized a 60 percent increase risk of child obesity for every regular soda consumed per day. Box drinks, juice, fruit drinks and sports drinks present another significant problem (see childhood obesity & nutrition). These beverages contain a significant amount of calories and it is estimated that 20 percent of children who are currently obese are obese due to excessive caloric intake from beverages.

childhood obesityRecent lifestyles have improved our quality of life but also contribute greatly to obesity in children which has both short term and long term effects (see childhood obesity effects). Cars are used for short trips, and the number of walking trips the average American children takes each year have decreased. Today only about 10% of public school students walk to school (see childhood obesity in schools) compared to the large no of student a generation ago.

childhood obesity preventionTips for parents

How can communities help in childhood obesity prevention? We have some ideas in our Community Initiatives section.

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