The Causes and Preventions of Childhood Obesity

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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When trying to find out if a child is considered for obesity, they need to have a body mass index that is between the ranges of the 85th percentile and the 95th percentile. When speaking about childhood obesity it is for children between the ages of infancy and early adulthood which is eighteen years of age. Obesity is one of the most preventable diseases especially if caught early enough. There are many different reasons for the cause of childhood obesity, one is nutrition based such as not having the right information on the effects.

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Another reason for childhood obesity is the lack of physical activity. With childhood obesity being a major problem in today’s society, we as reasonable people need to find ways to prevent this problem. We need to prevent this problem because if we do not it could be very harmful to our future children later in life.

To understand what childhood obesity, we first need to understand what obesity is. Obesity is not a very complex thing to understand but it can be pretty hard objective to grasp. According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, “Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.” (“Childhood Obesity Foundation”, 2015). This definition gives the broader definition of what obesity is. After first understanding what the broad definition of obesity is we can begin to talk about what childhood obesity is. Therefore, childhood obesity is the excessive growth of fat in people between the ages of infancy to early adulthood. With this disease being one of the more preventable diseases, it is imperative that these overweight children get help immediately because if they have this disease the more of a chance that they will grow up to become obese adults. As obese adults, the more likely they are to have chronic health diseases and the symptoms will be worse for them than normal.

There are many different people affected with this disease. This disease is not localized to a specific gender, social class, or economic group. Even though childhood obesity is more heavily seen in lower income areas it does not mean that it does not affect other economic groups. A large number of children who are affected by this disease are children who are not physically active throughout the day because since they are not physically active they will not burn the excess sugars or energy. If children do not burn off the excess energy, then the excess will be stored as fat and if the minimal amount activity becomes habitual the fat will just continue to grow. Many children like to eat foods that are not healthy but taste good. With “the marketing of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium to children and increased fast-food availability and increasing portion sizes.” (“Childhood Obesity Foundation”, 2015). With the increase of fast food marketing the amount of sodium intake and sugar and fat and the less amount of physical activity or poor nutrition education children think that these foods are okay and healthy for them to eat. Another group who is affected are children who “have a lack of access, availability, and affordability to healthy foods” (“Childhood Obesity Foundation”, 2015). If a child has no access or affordability of healthy food, they are more likely to go out and eat out, at fast food places, a lot more rather than eating home cooked meals. When children eat out they are taking in a lot more calories than they should be.

In the charts below released by the State of Obesity in 2015 they discuss many growth periods and percentages within the disease. In the study that they conducted they used children between the ages of two and nineteen years old. The survey took place in 2015-2016 and was done by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In this chart, they averaged out which ages seemed to be more affected by the disease of childhood obesity. They used a total amount as well as splitting the participants up by genders. In all of the different age groups except for one, the boys reported a higher percentage of obesity. The age group that the girls presented the highest percentage of obesity was girls between the ages of twelve and nineteen years old. One thing that could be affecting the reason as to why girls have a higher percentage of obesity in the ages between twelve and nineteen years old can be the effect of media and perspective. Media today has a specific image that they think girls should look and if a girl does not fit that image they can be shamed. A girl who is shamed can develop many difficult eating disorders such as a binge-eating disorder. A binge-eating disorder when a person eats a huge amount of food in little time as possible. A girl in this age group trying to fit the specific image but cannot reach the goal can lead to her getting bullied which makes her she can feel awful and eat junk food in hopes of making themselves feel better which can lead to severe obesity down the line.

Overall, through the information presented in the graph the highest percentage, in ages, where childhood obesity happens is in early adulthood. There is also a significant drop of almost seven percentage points from the highest percentage in adolescence to the preschool development, ages two to five years old. This age group could be the lowest due to them being very active between these ages. One of the significant points made through this study is that boys are more prone than girls to be obese at a young age by 1.3%.

In another graph reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2016 talks about the trends of the obesity growth rate:

This graph goes into detail to show that in the United States alone there has been a steady growth of childhood obesity in this country. The chart does not go past 1999 but if it follows the same trend the percentage in childhood obesity before 1999 was a lot lower than what it is today. Though this research is a generalization of childhood obesity the creators of this graph states that “Among teens ages 12 to 19, the rate quadrupled, from 5% to 20.6%.” (Childhood Obesity Trends, 2015). The creators are talking about the rate quadrupling from 1980 to 2016 statistics. One thing that can be noticed from this line chart is that even though there has been a steady growth throughout the years there is really no big jump between the years.

Childhood Obesity is a major problem in today’s world because of all the new factors that are put into place. There are many more ways that children can gain excessive amounts of weight. They can gain an excessive amount of weight from not only eating right but also from all of the increase in technology, such as smartphones and video games that kids do not think that they need to go out and exercise regularly. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention “If children have obesity, their obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more severe” (“Centers of Disease Control and Prevention”, 2016). The center of disease control and prevention is stating that if a child continues to be overweight they are just impacting the likelihood that they will become obese adults. An obese child who becomes an obese adult will have a lot harder time losing the excess weight which could have a severe impact on many different health problems.

Some of the health risks that can be caused by obesity later on in life are diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is many different diseases associated with the heart, such as high blood pressure which makes it harder for your push blood through the body and strains the arteries. Another heart disease that obesity can cause is a heart attack. If the heart is not functioning right because of excess fat surrounding the heart which can be caused by obesity. The next disease that childhood obesity and obesity in general causes is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot produce enough insulin in order to break down glucose into energy. Even though this disease is not very prevalent as a child, childhood obesity can increase the percentage of likelihood that as an adult they can have this disease.

In the article “Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences” written by K. Sahoo and many other authors, discusses what some of the main reasons that children are affected by childhood obesity. One of the causes that they noted in their research is that it all starts in the child’s home. The authors write “They note that children learn by modeling parents’ and peers’ preferences, intake and willingness to try new foods. Availability of, and repeated exposure to, healthy foods is key to developing preferences and can overcome dislikes of foods” (Sahoo et al., 2015, p. 188). When stating that children learn nutritional habits from the people they spend most of their time with is a very true statement. At younger ages, children are looking up to other people to teach them certain habits, so they are looking to parents and other to teach them the correct nutritional habits. If at a young age they are introduced to many different foods, they will reach better nutritional habits. But if they are only fed one specific item, like chicken nuggets as a child they will not get the right nutritional needs. Chicken nuggets do not give many nutritional needs. Families are one of the biggest impacts on their children’s lives. There are “Some children become obese because their parents don’t know how to choose or prepare healthy foods. Other families may not be able to easily afford fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats” (Roth & Gill, 2016). Nowadays parents preparing food at home for their children can be one of the hardest things. In addition to some parents not being educated properly on the nutritional benefits of preparing food, it is easier to give their kids money to buy their own food. It is easier to give a kid money to eat than prepare food because with both parents working there is very little time to make a healthy meal.

Fast food and sugary drinks are other major cause for obesity in children. These two options are both fast and easy as well as tasteful because of the additives. Many children are eating fast food more frequently because it is cheap and fast. With “A poor diet containing high levels of fat or sugar and few nutrients can cause kids to gain weight quickly. Fast food, candy, and soft drinks are common culprits” (Roth & Gill, 2016). Fast food is food that is made ready to order. They are precooked, and all that the maker needs to do is throw it in a fryer or on a grill in order to make them come out ready to eat as fast as possible. In many fast food places, they advertise that it would go well with a nice cold soft drink. Soft drinks are nothing but empty calories. Empty calories are calories that a person eats or drinks, but it has no real nutritional value to a persons’ body. Many children would rather drink something that tastes good and refreshing than a drink like water that does not have any taste to it, but it is better for you. There have been “many studies have examined the link between sugary drink consumption and weight and it has been continually found to be a contributing factor to being overweight” (Sahoo et al., 2015, p. 189). Many soft drinks have a high concentration of high fructose corn syrup which means there is a huge amount of sugar added which will lead to the weight gain in children. A reason other than the fact that soft drinks taste better than water is that buying a soft drink at a fast food place is cheaper than buying a bottle of water at the same fast food restaurant.

Fast food is a major contributor to huge amounts of caloric intake because of the additives, fast food is a major contributor to why children are obese. “According to Poti and Popkin (2011), fast-food is one of the main sources of calories for individuals between the ages of two and eighteen, and in the USA its consumption has been increasing since the 70s.” (Her?©dia et al., 2017 p. 298). A reason that this can be true is that many families nowadays have both parents working nine to five jobs, so when the parents get done their workday and pick up their children they are too tired to cook dinner at home and fast food is convenient and tastes good, they think it is a good option to replace dinner. These food companies consider that many families will be tired, so they try to market to the children so that the children will keep asking

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The Causes and Preventions of Childhood Obesity. (2020, Mar 21). Retrieved from