Childhood Obesity: Causes, Effects, and Prevention
Obesity is a condition where there is excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body such that it creates health problems and/or increases risk for health problems (Reilly 390). Childhood obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than equal to the 95th percentile for their age and gender (Goran, Ball, and Cruz 1417). Childhood obesity is an epidemic that developed countries are facing as a major issue for children’s health. The prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing since 1971 in developed countries. Twenty-five percent of children in the US are overweight and 11% are obese; about 70% of obese adolescents grow up to become obese adults (Dehgan, Akhtar-Danesh, Merchant 2). The number of overweight and obese children worldwide is increasing at an alarming rate over the past years, resulting in diseases previously seen in adult life beginning to now appear in childhood (Burke 831).
Childhood obesity is due to an imbalance between caloric intake of the child and the calories utilized for growth, development, metabolism, and physical activities (Karnik and Kanekar 3). It is not surprising to see the causes of childhood obesity. Dietary factors have been consistently shown to play a major role in the global causes of childhood obesity. When unhealthy, fatty or sugary foods are consumed along with deficient amount of exercise, obesity is usually the outcome (Smolak and Thompson 161).
Numerous parental influences shape the eating habits of youth including introduction of foods, access to foods, and education regarding this topic. According to Heinberg and Thompson, a study suggested that children are four times more likely to be overweight as young adults when their mothers do not monitor their intake of sweets. Several studies suggest that breastfeeding offers a small but consistent protective effect against obesity in children (45). Therefore, the...