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Causes of Obesity and Overweight in Children

Obesity was once a condition related to adulthood. But, since the last few decades, this has become a great concern in children as well. Childhood obesity has now caused an epidemic in developed countries while affecting the developing countries in the same manner. Even though obesity is known as being fat or having a weight over the healthy limit, this condition can cause negative effects on the child’s physical and psychological health.

According to CDC overweight and obesity is defined as having a BMI at or above the 95th percentile. According to researches that have been carried out, overweight kids are likely to be overweight or obese in their adulthood as well. Moreover, these kids are prone to contract non-communicable diseases or metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger are. The risk factors and the causes of childhood obesity are as same as the causes of adulthood obesity;

Genetic predisposition

One of the biggest contributing factors for childhood obesity is the genes the child carries. It is recognized that 25% – 40% of a person’s BMI is heritable. While the genes play its own role, it is also known that environmental factors trigger the activity of these genes.

Environmental factors

Even though the world develops every day, the safety of the people keeps on reducing. Parents’ safety concerns have reduced the kids’ opportunities to be physically active. Unlike in early times, many kids travel to school by vehicle instead of walking and also some kids are deprived of a garden area to play at home and will only get time to play when they go to a park with their parents.

Sedentary lifestyle

Sitting in front of TVs and playing computers games all the time have made kids to have a sedentary lifestyle with reduced time spent for outdoor playing. With the influence of these factors, the mealtime structure of kids have completely changed and also the snacking frequency has also increased.

Dietary factors

According to new findings, taste is followed by hunger and price in kids. Many adolescents consume more junk food for convenience, independence and enjoyment. With these unhealthy habits, kids find this unhealthy food for a lower price which encourages their consumption. If you question teenagers, you can easily find out that they are the main fans of sugary drinks. Instead of carrying a water bottle, they find it easy to purchase a soda outside. These beverages are recognized as the main contributor to obesity and diabetes in adulthood as well. Also, the statistics show that the portion size of a meal has increased in the last years along with the frequency of snacking and have thereby increased the overall calorie consumption.

Family factors

Food preferences and lifestyle habits of a family influences the habits a child develops. Normally, the available food at a home can determine a child’s diet as well. A study showed that having an overweight mother or having a single parent increases the risk of obesity in children.

Psychological factors 

Wrong eating can be further associated with psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, overweight kids are noted to have lower self-confidence when compared with normal weight kids. The social status of the family and the independent social health of the child will determine his health status in the childhood.

Medical conditions

There are many medical conditions that could be associated with childhood obesity. They may include, but not limited to;

  • Fatty liver
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Asthma
  • Gallstone disease
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Hypercholesterolemia

These conditions were extremely rare among children in the past, but now, their prevalence keeps on increasing.

Conditions and causes associated with childhood obesity are preventable and also can alleviate by gaining a healthy weight. But, some negative consequences of childhood obesity remains throughout the lifetime, decreasing the quality of overall health.