Childhood obesity is a complex and actual problem. It occurs when a child is above the normal or healthy weight for his or her age and height. The causes of excess weight gain in young people are similar to those in adults, including behavior and genetics.
Behaviors that lead to gain weight are eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
Fast food has been linked with obesity in the recent years. Many families, especially those with two parents working outside the home, have little time to cook and prefer eating at fast food restaurants rather than having lunch or dinner at home. Snacks consumption such as chips, baked goods and candy contributes to obesity too.
In contrast, eating healthy foods and doing physical activity can help children grow and maintain a healthy weight. Balancing energy or calories from foods and beverages with the calories burned through activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain.
Obesity during childhood can harm the body in different ways:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
- Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea.
- Joint problems
- Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux
Childhood obesity can cause severe health problems in future
- Children who have obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity. Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of several serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
- If children have obesity, their obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more serious.
Being obese is not just a problem of physical health. It affects social relationships too. Obese kids can be teased about their weight or body shape and then they can have difficulties with peers.
In order to prevent obesity, kids should eat more portions of good food like vegetables and fruit and practice a sport or do regular physical activity every day. They should lie down on the couch less playing video games and spend their free time outside.