Causes Of Childhood Obesity

What has changed in our society in the past few decades to cause such a rise in child obesity?

child obesityAlthough genes help determine body type and how much our body can store or and burns fat (see genetic causes of childhood obesity). Genes alone, however, cannot explain the current obesity crisis. Numerous investigations over the past few years have centered on genetic causes of child obesity. There has been no discovery of a "fat gene." Obesity "runs in families," and this is most likely due to the passing down of eating, physical activity patterns and attitudes toward being fat from one generation to the next, so multiple members of a family may struggle with weight. A child who has one obese parent is three times more likely to be obese as an adult. A child with two obese parents is ten times more likely to be obese later in life (see childhood obesity & parents).

causes of childhood obesityNow, families hardly eat meals together due to busy schedules (see childhood obesity & food). This is associated to less consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as an increased inclination towards fast food (see fast food and childhood obesity) to microwave and prepackaged meals and carbonated beverages. Parents leave their children alone at home and look for something that is easy to prepare, inexpensive, and makes them feel full. Daily schedules are so jam-packed that there's little time to plan healthier meals or to grip in some exercise (see childhood obesity & exercise). Portion sizes, in the home and out, have radically increased. Hence, the rise in the consumption of high energy foods and high fat are liable to be leading among the causes of the childhood obesity epidemic.

Additionally, our society has become very sedentary— technological advancements such as media (see media and childhood obesity) has increased the sedentary time eg TV, video games, internet, use of the motor car for transport has decreased in physical activity (see childhood obesity & physical activity).

television childhood obesity
43% of older kids and teens watch more than 2 hrs of television each day. When computer use and video games are included, time spent in front of a screen increases to over 5½ hours a day. Kids younger than 6 spend an average of 2 hrs a day in front of a screen, mostly watching TV or videos. Research has shown that increased television viewing correlates to decreased fruit and vegetable consumption and higher rates of fast food and fried food intake.

Not surprisingly, TV in child’s bedroom is also related to increased obesity in children. Many school kids, once they get home, almost all of their free time is spent in front of one screen or another. Increased television (see television childhood obesity) viewing not only decreases a physical activity level, but also increases snacking and makes the child more susceptible to advertising of high calories foods (see childhood obesity advertising).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends limiting the time kids over 2 years of age spend in front of a screen to no more than 1-2 hours. The AAP also discourages any screen time for children younger than 2 years.

Although physical education (PE) in schools can help kids be active and keep moving, many physical education programs in schools have been cut (see childhood obesity in schools). Hence, kids aren’t getting enough physical activity.

child obesity in schools

One study revealed that gym classes offered third-graders just 25 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Also, parents are now more likely to drive their children to school, either because of safety concerns or because of long distances between school and home. Current guidelines recommend that kids over 2 years of age should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.

childhood obesity preventionTips for parents

What can you do as a parent or guardian or caregiver to help preventing childhood obesity? We have some ideas in our Childhood Obesity Prevention section.

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1 comment:

Susan Diaz said...

Obese children and teenagers can lose significant weight through lifestyle changes that are occasionally paired with medication. Worrying about childhood obesity is not a solution and there is nothing to be gained from it. Most things that we do in our lives are through habit, even diet, exercise, and daily activities are habits, which we need to incorporate in our life as well in our children. If the problem has become big and out of control some behavioral lifestyle therapy, can help produce good weight-loss results. Read here to know more