Childhood Obesity – Causes and Prevention
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Today, childhood obesity is considered a serious and widespread struggle faced by many children around the world. In fact, childhood obesity has become an epidemic that has tripled or quadrupled in the last 40 to 50 years affecting almost 1 in 5 children. Children who are overweight are at a higher risk of suffering from hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, heart diseases and type II diabetes. Of course, on top of these health issues, obese children may further suffer from the emotional distress. Simply being labeled as fat, obese children can easily suffer from low self-esteem and depression.
When it comes to childhood obesity, parents in particular are required to take full responsibility for controlling their child’s weight and must not settle with the idea that their child will later outgrow this. A great misconception among parents is that an obese child is healthier the more robust they are. This is typical amongst parents who are in denial regarding their child’s weight management issues. Usually, these parents only admit that problem does exist once their child’s health issues surface.
There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity, from dietary habits to sedentary behavior to emotional problems to genetic predisposition. But even though these factors exist, there are many ways to help prevent childhood obesity.
It is apparent that a person who consumes more calories than his or her body burns can lead to obesity over time. Usually, a diet composed of sugary, processed foods with a high-calorie and low-nutrient content contributes largely to the risk of childhood obesity. In fact, children nowadays have no regular eating pattern; they eat even when they are not hungry or while watching TV and then tend ignore foods that are healthy for them.
Another contributing factor to obesity is inactivity. Children today are engaged in less physical activity than ever before. They are found playing computer and video games instead of committing to exercise. How your children spend their time and the kinds of activities they engage in plays a vital role in overcoming childhood obesity.
Still, some children undergoing emotional distress may resort to comfort eating. Normally, stressful life situations such death, abuse or even an ordinary upsets in everyday life may result to emotional eating for a child. Here, the child eats not out of hunger but primarily because they are unaware or unsuccessful in handling these emotions.
Furthermore, some studies have shown that obesity is genetic. An obese child could have an obese parent or other obese siblings. These children are more likely to gain excess fat due to their genetic make up. But of course, genetic predisposition does not guarantee childhood obesity. With proper nutrition and contributing lifestyle factors, there is very little reason why a child must be obese.
Be mindful that if an obese child develops diabetes during childhood, he or she is more likely to live a shorter life span as compared to those without diabetes. This is because diabetes is likely to build up kidney failure or heart disease or other associated effects of diabetes such as blindness.
As you can see, it would be wise to try and prevent childhood obesity. You can do so by following these recommendations. Seek medical attention before making any drastic change to an obese child’s lifestyle. Begin slowly by setting realistic goals for your child. One simple way is to start reducing the amount of refined sugar intake in your child’s diet. Encourage them to drink plenty of water and to engage in daily exercise, at the same time prohibit snacking between meals. You can even go further by seeking advice from a dietitian who can help develop an appropriate weight management program for your child.
Childhood obesity is a very real problem in our society. But we can take charge and help the youth of today learn to live a healthier life. It is up to us to help encourage health and fitness in today’s youth.
By Piper Cox