Obesity rates, which have already reached epidemic proportions in much of the West, continue to climb and so it’s hardly surprising that we are seeing an increasing number of overweight children.
The dangers of child obesity today are all too clear, but exactly what are the causes of childhood obesity?
As with many conditions there is no single cause of child obesity and several different factors, generally working together, come into play when we are considering childhood obesity.
Child Obesity – Contributory Factors
Often a child with overweight or obese parents will also be overweight or obese and this tends to indicate that there is a genetic or inherited link to child obesity. This is an area that is currently being researched in a number of medical studies on childhood obesity. At the moment however no clear genetic link has been established and it is believed far more likely that child obesity results from eating habits and diet within the family and not genetics.
Eating habits have altered markedly in recent years with fast food outlets appearing everywhere, junk food widely and readily available and the shelves of our supermarkets piled high with convenience foods which often contain high amounts of sugar. Gone are the days of home cooked meals in most homes, to be replaced by take-away food or microwave meals and a growing number of parents are electing to take their children out to eat rather preparing meals at home.
We have also witnessed a considerably decline in activity levels for many groups of children which has been fueled to a large extent by the introduction of home computers, video games, and now the ever present mobile phone. This drop in the level of activity means that many kids are no longer taking advantage of their own natural ability to burn off the calories that they gain from eating. The connection between technology today and child obesity is only too clear for all to see.
The media (including the Internet, television and magazines) also plays a key role. Junk and fast food companies, as well as sweet manufacturers, have not been slow to jump aboard the media bandwagon and take full advantage of its advertising potential.
There is no question that there is a link between fast food commercials and the growing number of obese kids we see today and the answer to the question ‘Does fast food produce child obesity?’ is most clearly ‘Yes’.
In addition, there is a clear connection between social changes and child obesity with many of our kids nowadays simply eating whenever they get bored. They will also turn to food if they are depressed, stressed, anxious or angry.
Although a great deal of research is currently aimed at child obesity, a lot of the strategies to combat adolescent obesity are looking at solving the problem once a child is overweight or obese. Perhaps however the time has come when we should be attacking the problem at its roots and preventing our kids from becoming overweight or obese to start with.
How Do You Measure Child Obesity?
One very important question is that of just how you decide whether or not you have an obese child. Although the definition of obesity talks in terms of measuring obesity by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index) this is straightforward in adults but is not quite so simple in the case of child and teenage obesity.
Child obesity is certainly something which parents can measure roughly in terms of BMI, but this needs to be done in consultation with your doctor. Read more to discover the solution to determining child obesity…