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10 Reasons for Childhood Obesity

10 Reasons for Childhood Obesity

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Habits and practices that are making children obese

We are having a public health crisis. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and the statistics are startling. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are obese, a number that has tripled since 1980. Obesity in children is defined as a body mass index in or above the 95th percentile on the standard growth chart for children of the same age and sex.

There are multiple health risks for kids who are obese. They can suffer from breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma, as well as suffer muscle and joint pain. Kids can also develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, and are also at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, these problems can follow obese children throughout their life span.

According to the CDC, obese children are more likely to become obese adults, which can lead to more serious health problems. In addition to the physical risks, there are the social and psychological problems that often come with childhood obesity. These kids often get teased and bullied about their weight by their peers and can develop low self-esteem and depression.

There are plenty of factors to blame for childhood obesity. Nikki Brender, a NewYork City-based registered dietician who specializes in pediatric nutrition, states, "Poor habits start early on. I see many parents adding juice to baby bottles, which introduces babies to sweet tastes too early on and predisposes them to being overweight as a toddler and adolescent." And that is just the beginning. Here are 10 more reasons why children are at risk for obesity as they grow into adolescents.

Click here to see the 10 Reasons for Childhood Obesity Slideshow.

Childhood Obesity: The New Plague in America

Did you know that nearly one in three American children is overweight? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the childhood obesity rate has almost been tripled in the past three decades. Overweight children are prone to immediate and long-term health effects, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, dangerous blood cholesterol levels, and even death in adulthood. Moreover, overweight children often suffer from low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression.

For those reasons, childhood obesity is the prime health concern in the USA today, even bigger than smoking and drug abuse. The drastic effects of childhood obesity echo clearly in the words of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona:

“Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

Childhood Obesity According to Ethnicity has released percentages of childhood obesity by ethnicity for children between the ages of 2 and 19:

  • For non-Hispanic whites, 17.5 percent of males and 14.7 percent of females.
  • For non-Hispanic blacks, 22.6 percent of males and 24.8 percent of females.
  • For Mexican-Americans, 28.9 percent of males and 18.6 percent of females.

How Do I Know if my Child Is Overweight?

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is widely used to determine a person’s body fat by correlating weight and height measurements. Rather than calculating the ratio yourself, use the BMI calculator for accurate readings.

Once you find your child’s BMI rating, it can be plotted on a standard BMI chart, which is given below for kids aged 2-19.

Underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile

Normal Weight: BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentiles

Overweight: BMI at the 85th and below the 95th percentiles

Obese: BMI at or above the 95th percentile

However, BMI calculations are not meant to determine body fat in infants or young toddlers. A physician can use special “weight for length” charts to estimate body fat in babies or infants.

In some cases, BMI can be misleading, for example . . .

  • Muscular children may have high BMIs, without being overweight, because much of the weight comes from extra muscle rather than fat.
  • Children experience rapid growth during puberty.

If your child seems overweight, consult your doctor, who can suggest changes in lifestyle and diet, based on a medical screening of your child.

Causes of Being Overweight

From genetics to medications, lifestyles and eating habits, many factors contribute to becoming obese. Children prefer snacks and fast foods over healthy and homemade food. Tight schedules and busy lives make it difficult to find time to prepare healthy meals or to exercise. Therefore, even kids with good BMIs can develop the tendency to become overweight.

What is the Role of the Parent in Tackling Childhood Obesity?

A parent’s support and effort are essential to keep childhood obesity at bay. As a responsible parent, you must encourage your children to eat healthy food and engage in physical activities in the following ways:

  • Improve your kids’ eating habits by adding healthy, real foods to their daily diet.
  • Limit their consumption of fast foods and snacks.
  • Motivate them to engage in physical activities, workouts, and sports.
  • Explain to them the benefits of health in one’s life, such as increased energy, better focus, etc.

In addition to parents, schools play an important role by creating a safe and supportive environment to encourage healthy eating and physical activities.

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Dr. Jones: The United States has an increasing rate of childhood obesity, so why can't we seem to improve on this problem? I'm Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones, family physician at the University of Utah. We'll talk about this next, coming up on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Dr. Jones: Childhood obesity has long been a significant concern in the United States. The rate of childhood obesity has increased three to four times in the last 30 years. Approximately one-third of kids are either overweight or obese.

So this impacts multiple areas of health, both short-term and long-term, for these children such as impacting their heart, their lungs, their joints, and the possibility of developing diseases such as diabetes. It impacts their mental health as well as many other things.

Now, over the last few years there has been shown to be some mild improvement in the rate of obesity among young children age two to five years, so there is some bright side coming with hope on the horizon. However, a recent evaluation shows that the United States has the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the world. Now, in markers like this we tend to be number one in the world. However, I think this really underscores the problem. If we are number five that means this is a really big issue across the world and it's not just us.

So why is our rate so high? There are multiple factors. We're going to touch just on three.

Number one, our culture. It's changed a lot in the last 30 years. Our kids and adolescents and us as adults participate in a lot of screen time so television, computers, video games, phones. Many households have more screens than people. So spending so much time in front of a screen leads us to be more sedentary and leads our kids to be more sedentary and not getting the activity they need.

When you combine this with concerns about safety outdoors, as well as the availability and cost of healthy fresh food, this can be a very important thing that leads to obesity. Soda and junk food tend to be ubiquitous and extremely damaging to our health. They are all over.

Number two, and this can be a little more controversial, but advertising to children for junk food. Young children cannot tell the difference between an advertisement and a show, and small children are often unable to understand good food choices. Now, advertisers have been shown to very carefully study what are the most effective ways to target children to get them to take these products and that seems to be having a big impact on childhood obesity.

Number three, school lunches. This is something that we're getting improvements very slowly but are getting some improvements, big efforts by people such as Michelle Obama to continually improve the health of school lunches. Now, this can include many different forms such as eliminating vending machines, decreasing the amount of fatty food, increasing options that are healthy. But this is a big contributor to the problem of childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity continues to rise in the United States, making us one of the worst in the world in this marker. Our culture, certain advertising methods, and food exposures at school among many other factors all contribute to the problem. So let's hope we can make some changes as a society to improve the health of our children.

Reasons for children and adolescents to become obese

Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. Children who are overweight/obese at a young age frequently stay overweight/obese as adolescents and then adults. There are multiple reasons for why obesity in children is rising: decrease in physical activity due to time spent on technology, bigger food portions, lack of nutritional knowledge, the consumption of sugary drinks, and many more. Studies show that 1 out of 3 children are obese.

Societal reasons for the childhood obesity epidemic

Obesity is an energy balance disorder whereby the number of calories being consumed exceeds the number of calories being burned. In addition, it can be caused by parents feeding their children with too many calories, for instance, junk food, instead of a proper balanced diet. The excess calories in the child’s body are converted into fats, which accumulate in the child’s body leading to overweight and obesity. In order for one to become non-obese, it will take a few lifestyle changes, which produce a small daily calorie deficit. Preventing childhood obesity will require societal changes to help the modification of diet and physical activities in children.

Nutrition and other lifestyle factors during several early periods in the lifecycle-just before conception, the months spent in utero, and the months after birth-can have profound effects on an individual’s weight at birth, during childhood, and on into adulthood. These are also potentially optimal times for intervention, for two reasons: women may be more receptive to making lifestyle changes as they prepare to get pregnant and when they are pregnant to increase the likelihood of having a healthy baby. And after giving birth, many women are willing to make substantial changes to raise a healthy infant. Here are some key messages for clinicians to give to women of childbearing age that could help improve their health and the health of their children, and limit the current epidemic of obesity:.

It is impossible to point to one single reason of the childhood obesity epidemic. Rather, a variety and combination of factors are at play. A number of studies have investigated the reasons for elevated rates of childhood obesity—with more studies ongoing. A more sedentary lifestyle has certainly been found to be prevalent in many studies. And studies have shown that children who watch television for longer than one hour per day tend to have a higher body mass index (bmi) as well as higher blood pressure. Researchers have suggested that more time spent in front of the television is associated with poor food choices that lead to overweight and obesity and, in turn, increased cardiovascular risk.

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Does obesity run in your family, and are you worried about your kids inheriting the same?

Does your child go on food eating spree although he isn’t hungry?

Are you worried that your child may end up being obese considering his widening waistline?

If mere listening to these questions alarms you about the wellbeing of your child, we encourage you to read this blog and ponder.

Obesity in children is a severe medical condition that attacks children and adolescents. Children can be said obese when they are above the normal weight for their age and height.

Childhood obesity is a problem and makes worrying because extra pounds make children face health problems that are faced by an adult problem such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Many overweight children become obese adult, especially if one parent or both parents are overweight. Obesity in children can also cause poor self-esteem and depression.

One of the best strategies to reduce obesity in childhood is to improve the nutrition and physical habits of your entire family and spend time together. Helping children to lead a healthy lifestyle begins with parents who lead by example. Treating and preventing obesity in childhood protects your child’s health now and in the future.

BMI is a tool for determining “weight.” BMI is calculated based on size and weight. Your BMI percentile (when your body mass index is far from other people) is then determined based on your gender and age. BMI is calculated based on height and weight of a child. In children and adolescents, BMI is used to determine whether a child or adolescent is underweight, healthy, overweight, or obese. The fat in a child’s body changes with age.

What Causes Obesity in Children:

Children become overweight and obese for various reasons. The common causes are genetic factors, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, or a combination of these factors. In rare cases, being overweight is due to conditions such as hormonal problems. Diseases for the cause of obesity can be ruled out by physical examination, and some blood tests.

Although severe problems occur in families, not all children with a family history of obesity are overweight. Children whose parents or siblings are obese may be at high risk of becoming fat themselves. However, this might be related to family behavior, such as eating habits and activity habits.

There are many reasons why a child is obese. However, in most cases, children are overweight because they eat unhealthy food and live a sedentary lifestyle. If you think your child is overweight because of illness, consult pediatrician, who can do the examination.

The Reason Why More and More Children Become Overweight and Why It Is Increasing :

Obesity in children is a new curse for teenagers. There are several reasons why it almost becomes an epidemic. Let’s see the reason:

Behavioral factors: Eat a heavy portion, eat foods that are high in calories but low in nutrition, spend time watching TV or computers and spend too little time doing physical activity

Environmental factors: Easy access to high-calorie, unhealthy foods, low physical activity, lack of parks and playgrounds in several communities

Genetic factors: Children are at increased risk of obesity if at least one parent is overweight. However, genes do not always mean that children are obese there are steps that children can take to reduce their risk.

Medications: Taking the wrong medication, along with health problems, can damage the child’s body and cause obesity. Some steroids, and antidepressants and others

Medical conditions: The medical disorders that can cause obesity genetic syndromes like Prader-Willi, and hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism.

Lack of physical activity and food intake: Today, most of the time is spent watching television, computers or video games rather than playing in the open air like parks by children. This must be avoided because physical activity plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy health condition.

Bad eating habits: Inappropriate and unhealthy consumption of junk and oily foods and carbonated drinks must be avoided because they contain fat and fast carbohydrates.

Physical exercise must be mandatory: The school must prescribe exercise and other physical exercises for each student so that they can be physically active.

Good sleep is needed: Children can sleep well when exercising physically. This makes him feel tired and sleep well.

The home environment is another important factor: If a family follows an inactive lifestyle that also includes high-calorie foods, the child is likely to be overweight.

Stressful events: Child is feeling stress at home, examination stress, problems with friends, or family can cause this obesity.

Health Problems Caused Due to Obesity:,

Obese kids have some health risk problems they are:

  • Bone and joint problems
  • shortness of breath
  • Restless sleep or breathing problems at night
  • A tendency to mature earlier
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension


In conclusion, obesity in the children population has risen alarmingly in recent decades. The causes of this epidemic are diverse and include economic, environmental, and genetic factors. Because obesity is a chronic disease, overweight and obese children usually grow into an unhealthy adult. Prevention and intervention strategies need to be developed and used to slow down the adverse effects of childhood obesity that leads to physical, emotional problems in growing adults.

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Childhood obesity: pathophysiology and treatment

Childhood obesity is among the most difficult problems which pediatricians treat. It is frequently ignored by the pediatrician or viewed as a form of social deviancy, and blame for treatment failure placed on the patients or their families. The definition of obesity is difficult. Using total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC) technology, total body fat ranges between 12% and 30% of total body weight in normal children and adolescents. This is influenced not only by age, but also by physical fitness. Anthropometry is the easiest way to define obesity. Children whose weight exceeds 120% of that expected for their height are considered overweight. Skinfold thickness and body mass index are indices of obesity that are more difficult to apply to the child. Childhood obesity is associated with obese parents, a higher socioeconomic status, increased parental education, small family size and a sedentary lifestyle. Genetics also clearly plays a role. Studies have demonstrated that obese and non-obese individuals have similar energy intakes implying that obesity results from very small imbalances of energy intake and expenditure. An excess intake of only 418 kJ per day can result in about 4.5 kg of excess weight gain per year. Small differences in basal metabolic rate or the thermic effects of food may also account for the difference in energy balance between the obese and non-obese. In the Prader Willi Syndrome, there appears to be a link between appetite and body fatness. When placed on growth hormone, lean body mass increases, body fat decreases, sometimes to normal, and appetite becomes more normal.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

The best person to determine whether or not your child is overweight is your child's doctor. In determining whether or not your child is overweight, the doctor will measure your child's weight and height and compute their ''BMI,'' or body mass index, to compare this value to standard values. The doctor will also consider your child's age and growth patterns.

If you have an overweight child, it is very important that you allow them to know that you will be supportive. Children's feelings about themselves often are based on their parents' feelings about them, and if you accept your children at any weight, they will be more likely to feel good about themselves. It is also important to talk to your children about their weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you. Your child’s doctor can also help you set healthy weight goals for your child’s height. The doctor can even guide on a timeline to achieve that healthy weight.

It is not recommended that parents set children apart because of their weight. Instead, parents should focus on gradually changing their family's physical activity and eating habits. By involving the entire family, everyone is taught healthful habits and the overweight child does not feel singled out.

Family bonding is a strong structure in the behavioral molding of the child. Parents and siblings are the people around the child who can influence child behavior and lifestyle.[15] Hence, effective interventions in a family setting can be beneficial to change child's behavior of overeating and unhealthy choice of food. Physical activity can be improved by small strategies like parking cars away from stores so that kids can walk and to take stairs instead of elevators or escalators. It is essential that parents are aware of the potential risk the child is facing due to obesity and take actions to control the problem. Effective measures to prevent obesity in future can be promoted by these interventions.[14] These weight-control interventions can be achieved and sustained by providing good support and a variety of strategies to parents.[16]

Children spend most of their time in schools. Hence, school plays an important role in the life of the child. There are many school-based intervention strategies. Some interventions focus on nutrition-based or physical-based aspect of weight-control independently, while others jointly focus on both aspects of nutrition and physical activity to achieve the aim of weight control in children.[17] Children take at least one meal at school. Hence, schools can encourage kids to make a healthy food choice like reducing the intake of carbonated drinks or sugary foods, encourage kids to drink healthy fruit juices, water, vegetables, and fruits. Schools which provide meals can have healthy nutritious food items with emphasis on a balanced diet.[18] Schools can involve kids in physical activity by strategies like lengthening the time of physical activity involving them in moderate to vigorous physical activity for short durations, encouraging them to walk or active commuting, and taking stairs instead of elevators. Kids should be encouraged to participate in various physical activities like games and dance groups with more emphasis on non-competitiveness. Some school-based programs along with the help of community members can help to promote physical education skills and healthy nutrition among children, with focus on implementing this education for maintaining long-term healthy behavior. Classroom-based health education can make older children and teens aware of eating nutritious diet and engaging in regular physical activity.[17]


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