Sunday, June 21, 2009

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Childhood obesity

What are the major contributors to childhood obesity? There are a number of factors that have contributed to the rise in childhood obesity. Because obesity is an exceedingly complex group of diseases and probably should be characterized as a syndrome.

Approximately one-fourth of children ages 6–11 and adolescents ages 12–18 are obese, making childhood obesity one of the most serious pediatric health problems in the Unites States.

Environmental factors such as diet, physical activity, the impact of familia and environment are major contributors to obesity, and in turn are influenced by genetic traits.

Food choices
The effects of eating habits on childhood obesity are difficult to determine. Some literature has found a relationship between fat food consumption and obesity. Including a study which found that fast food restaurants near schools increases the risk of obesity among the student population. Soft drink, low intake of fruit and vegetables, low fiber, and whole milk consumption may contribute to childhood obesity. These foods tend to be high in fat and/or calories and low in many other nutrients.

Physical inactivity
Physical inactivity of children has also shown to be a serious cause, and children who fail to engage in regular physical activity are at greater risk of obesity. The popularity of television, computers, and video games translates into an increasingly inactive lifestyle for many children in the United States. Fewer than half of children in the United States have a parent who engages in regular physical exercise. Based on data from NHANES II and III, among children twelve to seventeen years of age the prevalence of overweight increases 2 percent for each additional hour of TV viewed daily.

The impact of familia and environment
Familial impact on children’s weight includes both genetic and shared lifestyle influences. Whereas twin, family, and adoption studies suggest a strong genetic contribution for childhood obesity, Statistics show that a child with two obese parents has an 80 percent risk of becoming overweight. Genetics alone does not cause obesity.
Parents may have a direct influence by providing an environment that nurtures physical activity in the child, and have indirect influence through modelling of physical activity participation. Young children (four to seven years of age) whose parents were physically active were nearly six times as likely to be physically active. In a report released, the Institute of Medicine said television advertising strongly influences what children under 12 eat. The foods advertised are predominantly high in calories and low in nutrition

The factors that may cause children to become overweight and obese include:

Metabolic factors have the potential to influence the onset of obesity. However, much of the research in this area has been conducted on adults and not the childhood population.
Psychological factors. Feelings of depression can cause a child to overeat.
The other factors are the use of private transport has increased, physical education in the school curriculum has reduced and medical illness.

Obesity in childhood is related to both negative physic and psychosocial consequences. Read this post about medical consequences identified as resulting from overweight or obesity in childhood. Also this post about Ideas to help/prevent children from obesity.

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