Childhood Obesity

There are many factors that contribute to causing child and adolescent obesity – some are modifiable and others are not. Obesity in children and adolescents is a serious issue with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. Implementing prevention programs and getting a better understanding of treatment for youngsters is important to control the obesity epidemic.

Many parents are rightly concerned about their child’s weight and how it affects them. They look for specific answers for prevention and treatment options. Unfortunately, the state of the science is a lot less precise than we would like. Are kids too concerned about their weight? What are the best strategies for prevention? What treatments work over a long time?

Researchers are trying to answer those and many other questions. In many cases, common sense work well. In situations where there is serious health, psychological or serious problems, parents should seek out the best possible advice.

Modifiable Causes

Physical Activity: Lack of regular exercise.

Sedentary Behavior: High frequency of television viewing, computer usage, and similar behavior that takes up time can be used for physical activity.

Socioeconomic Status: High family incomes.

Eating habits: Over consumption of high calorie foods. Some eating patterns that have been associated with this behavior are eating when not hungry, eating while watching TV or doing homework.

Environment: Some factors are over-exposure to advertisements of foods that promote high-calorie foods and lack of recreational facilities.

Non-Modifiable Cause

Genetics: Greater risk of obesity has been found in children of obese and overweight parents.

Prevention

Prevention should begin in early childhood. Obesity is harder to treat in adults than in children. Teaching healthy behaviors at a young age is important since change becomes more difficult with age
Behaviors involving physical activity and nutrition are the cornerstone of preventing obesity in children and adolescents. Families and schools are the two most critical links in proving the foundation for those behaviors. Parents are the most important role models for children.
Involving of the entire family is also a motivating factor. Weight control programs that involve both parents and the child have shown improvement in long-term effectiveness compared to directing the program only to the child.

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