Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It’s particularly troubling because the extra weight often starts children on the path to health problems that were once considered adult problems diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The fundamental cause of childhood obesity is an imbalance between calories consumed and energy spent. However, the rapid increase in childhood obesity is largely due to environmental influences. Urbanization leads to an increase in sedentary lifestyles and a decline in physical activity. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.
Many factors usually working in combination increase your child’s risk of becoming overweight:
- Diet. Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, baked goods, and vending machine snacks can cause your child to gain weight. Chocolates and desserts also can cause weight gain, and more evidence points to sugary drinks, including fruit juices and sports drinks, play a major role in obesity in some people.
- Lack of exercise. Children who don’t exercise much are more likely to gain weight because they don’t burn as many calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games, also contributes to the problem.
- Psychological factors. Personal, parental and family stress can increase a child’s risk of obesity. Some children overeat to cope with problems or deal with emotions, such as stress, or fight boredom. Their parents might have similar tendencies.
- Certain medications. Some prescription drugs can increase the risk of developing obesity. They include prednisone, lithium, amitriptyline, paroxetine, gabapentin, and propranolol.
- Socioeconomic factors. People in some communities have limited resources and limited access to supermarkets. As a result, they might buy convenience foods that don’t spoil quickly, such as frozen meals, crackers, and cookies.
Prevention of Childhood Obesity:
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Prevention of childhood obesity is vital, especially since we know that the treatment of obesity is extremely difficult. Proven and simple strategies to prevent obesity include:
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake.
- Reducing TV viewing. Eating while viewing TV is a major cause of excess food intake. TV commercials lead children toward fast food.
- Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is now called the new ‘tobacco’ and must be limited to all ages. Water is encouraged instead of sweetened drinks.
Encourage physical activity. It is a struggle to ensure active lives in children, due to limited time and academic pressures. Parents need to facilitate physical activity in young children, and 60 minutes of daily healthy physical activity in older children.