However, in the current scenario, with the development of technology ,children overwhelmed by the electronic gadgets, remain glued to one place watching television , surfing the internet, playing computer/ video games, binging on calorie laden unhealthy snacks, making them turn into couch potatoes. These factors are responsible for the rising menace of childhood obesity.
Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat. The diagnosis for obesity based on the Body Mass Index (BMI) determines when the total body weight is 25% fat in boys, and 32% fat in girls. Obesity has an overwhelming effect on the psychological and emotional aspects of a childs life.
Besides these, diseases like asthma, liver disease, early puberty, skin infections, and other eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa plague them. Obesity in children is due to a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and medical factors.
Causes Of Obesity In Children
Polymorphism is a gene that controls metabolism and appetite, which influence a person’s body weight when sufficient calories are present. Therefore, the greatest risk for childhood obesity is when it tends to run in families.
A child with an obese parent or sibling is more likely to become obese. Nevertheless, in certain cases genetics is not the lone factor. Children who consume more calories than they do burn tend to gain those extra pounds.
Breast feeding with its nutritional and beneficial effects, with a delay in introduction of solid foods, may help prevent obesity later in life.
Studies have found a relationship between obesity and consumption of unhealthy fast foods. In modern times, childrens’ food habits have shifted from healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to consumption of calorie-laden soft drinks, fast and processed foods.
These factors contribute towards childhood obesity.
Sedentary lifestyle has been one of the most serious causes for children at a risk for obesity. Inactivity leads to unused energy that gets stored in the body as fat. Due to the rising popularity of computers video games and television, most children remain inactive without any form of exercise.
Parents, with their busy schedule, fail to engage their children in regular physical activity and prevent them from participating in after school sports on concerns of safety.
Stress has great influence on the eating habits of a child, with junk foods acting as great stress busters for some children. Recent studies reveal a link between stress and binging on unhealthy snacks. Although depression is another factor when the child tends to eat more, on the contrary antidepressants seem to have little influence on childhood obesity.
Family meals largely influence children’s choice of food. According to recent research, four out of five parents allowed their children to make their own decisions regarding choice of food. In addition, children of working mothers and those brought up by their grandparents were more likely to be obese kids who grew up to be overweight adults.
Most often children compete with their peers, who are addicted to unhealthy junk food and snacks. This leaves parents in a dilemma choosing between healthy packed lunches or allowing their children to succumb to peer pressure.
Certain medical factors pertaining to metabolic disorders, hormonal and chemical imbalances, are some of the major causes of obesity in children. Certain medications too alter the way the body processes food and stores as fat.
Nevertheless, it is important for parents to be supportive and accept the child, irrespective of his/her weight. With a little encouragement and support, motivate your child to maintain an ideal body weight.