It is estimated that 5-25 percent of children and teenagers in America today are suffering from obesity. Obesity among children is on the rise. More and more children and teenagers are becoming obese. While it is well known that obese infants do not always remain obese into childhood and not all obese children remain obese into adulthood, obesity is increasing with age. This means that there is a much higher risk of remaining obese throughout your lifetime if you are obese as a child.
There are many problems that are created for children secondary to obesity. Besides the obvious risk of obesity in adulthood, obesity in a child is the most common cause for pediatric hypertension. Childhood obesity is also linked to Type II diabetes mellitus. There is an increased risk of having coronary artery disease. There is undue stress placed on all of the weight bearing joints. Obese children also have lower self esteem and poor relationships with their peers. Some specialists have said that the most substantial impact on a child related to obesity is social and psychological problems.
There are several causes of childhood obesity that are all focused around an improper balance between energy that is taken in and energy that is put out. Family factors are a big cause of childhood obesity. This can be due to genetic factors or also due to the way that parent’s are teaching their children about eating habits and exercise.
Another cause of childhood obesity is the fact that most children spend hours watching television everyday. In the past, kids may have been outside or doing physical activities that involved movement and using the body. The majority of obese children spend a significant amount of time in front of the television. They have little physical activity. They also normally have snacks and junk food when they are watching television.
Hereditary factors play a role in the development of obesity in children. Infants that are born to overweight mothers have been shown to be less active and to weigh significantly more than babies that were born to mothers with a normal weight by the time they were three months old. It would seem that there is a hereditary, inborn trait that causes babies to want to conserve energy and do less physical activity, thus gaining more weight.
There are a variety of treatments available for childhood obesity. These treatments and programs are most often not associated with weight loss. Instead, the plan is to slow or stop weight gain so that the child has the ability to grow into their body weight over a period of time. It has been proven that proper and early intervention is the best way to start modifying obesity issues. Studies have shows that it is easier to change a child’s eating and exercise habits than it is to change an adults. Treatments can include physical activity and exercise. There will also be management of the child’s diet involved. There may also be a need for a behavior modification plan to be implemented. Often the easiest way to correct a problem is to change the thinking and the learned behaviors.