One look around a typical school yard or shopping mall will tell you that childhood obesity has grown by leaps and bounds in less than one generation. Statistics confirm this, but seeing really is believing. It’s easy to point all the blame at video games or mobile devices or single parent families, but there really are a range of contributing factors that all play a role. And when two or more of these factors start working together, the results can be truly alarming.
It’s not often that a child’s obesity is completely beyond anyone’s control, but studies do point to certain genetic traits that may increase the likelihood. There are rare genetic disorders, but the fact that they are rare would rule them out for the majority of childhood obesity cases.
In the past 30 or so years, the rates of childhood obesity have tripled, yet human genetics has not changed that dramatically. In all likelihood, some children have a genetic ‘predisposition’ to obesity that it activated by one of the other common risk factors.
A diet that is high in calories is certainly one contributing factor to childhood obesity. More specifically, a diet that is high in calories from sugars, saturated fat and other low nutrient sources is a contributing factor. Liquid calories from soft drinks and some fruit drinks are a culprit, as are processed foods, fast foods and super-sized portion sizes.
Many childhood diets contain very little fiber or protein, and not much thought at all is given to essential vitamins and minerals. Kids left to eat what they want and drink what they want will ultimately gain excess weight.
Lack of Activity
The video games and mobile devices mentioned in the introduction may not be the sole culprits, but they can definitely play a part. A sedentary lifestyle is cited as a primary reason for obesity in adults, and it’s no different with kids.
In the not so long ago days when there was no media like computers and mobile devices and video games, children had to move around just to entertain themselves. Even on television, Saturday mornings used to be the time to lay around and watch cartoons, now it can happen all day every day.
Unfortunately, there really is no one solution to the childhood obesity issue. All of the above factors play a role, but it’s also up to parents and other support members to keep kids in line and see that they observe healthier habits. Set an example, and practice guidance, even with a busy and hectic lifestyle. Increase the interaction with kids, eat as many meals together per week as possible, and watch how things start to change.