childhood obesity

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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Essay on Childhood Obesity - Causes and Preventive Measures

Childhood obesity is a huge concern for parents, teachers and the medical society. It has differing theories and philosophies when it comes to prevention and possible causes. Inactivity, technology, and genetics are parenting beliefs and attitudes, which cause childhood obesity. Social circles and peer pressure also cause the sad epidemic of obese or overweight children. Physicians, teachers, and parents should provide kids with enough physical and mental support to create a culture of fully informed children. However, neglect causes kids to gain weight as they grow. Hence, such a problem poses a huge challenge to parents as it hinders normal development and growth of their kids. Luckily, research into the specific causes of childhood obesity helps in motivating and educating both the children and their parents. They can easily monitor the behaviors of their children and correct early signs of childhood obesity. With that said, below are just some of the causes and suitable preventive measures.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Sugary Beverages

A study examining children found that consuming sugary beverages increases the BMI amount by small quantities as time goes by. They, usually, are limited to soda, and juice as well as other sweetened substances. Further studies have even examined the close link between sugary beverages and increase in weight. Here, researchers found that taking too much of these drinks causes one to be overweight. Such is because they are not as filling as food and are consumed faster. Eventually, they result in increased calories in the child’s body.

Snack Foods

Another crucial factor is the eating a lot of ‘junk’ food. These include baked goods, chips, and candy. Studies keep showing that these foods are the huge contributing factor when it comes to childhood obesity. Even so, while snacking increases the overall intake of calories, few studies clearly show the link between it and being overweight.

The Portion Size

Over the past decade, the size of the portions consumed by kids has slowly increased. Consuming huge portions, plus increased snacking on high caloric foods, leads to excess calories in the body of a child. Such energy imbalance causes weight gain, and in the long run, obesity!

A Child’s Activity Level

One major factor, that leads to obesity, is living a sedentary life. For instance, the more kids stay on the television, the more they risk becoming obese. Studies go on to show that television viewing keeps on increasing with time. Unfortunately, such behaviors decrease the amount of time needed for physical activities. Research also shows that children get drawn into food advertisements like sweet cereals, beverages, salty snacks, and sweets. Despite challenges in assessing the impact of the media in influencing the decision-making skills of children, it’s clear that its effects should not be underestimated. It causes smoking and aggression in adolescent children and the creation of unrealistic body ideas.

Environmental Factors

While extensive viewing of the television contributes to a sedentary life, there is another environmental factor that keeps decreasing the rate of physical activity. A good number of children in the past opted to ride their bikes to school. However, a study in 2002 discovered that close 53% of parents chose to drive their kids to school. 66% of them said that they decided to drive their children because their homes were too far. Other reasons included:
  • Security concerns
  • Child predators
  • Their kid's convenience
Therefore, children living in unsafe regions or those who can’t get a safe route to school are not physically active. In the end, this causes an increase in weight.

Social and Cultural Factors

How can such factors increase the rate of obesity? Well, our society loves using food as a reward, as a socializing process and method of control. Using food in this way encourages the increase in unhealthy relationships as food ultimately increases the risk of the child becoming obese.

How to Prevent Obesity in Children

Playing Every Day

It’s important for kids to play as it makes sure that there is minimal fat in the body. In some cases, parents will need to hide those indoor games like video games. They should insist that children participate in outdoor activities like jumping, sweating and running. Just one or two hours are enough for the health of the child without disrupting activities such as academics because of fatigue.

Reducing the Amount of Television Time

Another effective method is minimizing the time spent in front of the screen or television. As a parent, you should give your kids some specific time to watch TV. In so doing, you provide them with enough time to try proactive and outdoor activities.

Control their Diet

Children shouldn’t overeat of fast foods such as French Fries. Instead, they should consume nutritious and well-balanced foods. Good examples here include vegetables, carbohydrates and fruits. Besides, medical experts advise parents to include a third of vegetables in the meals their kids eat! Similarly, they should take a lot of water throughout the day and also during meals. However, don’t replace water with energy drinks as it contains unnecessary sugars. Most importantly, as a parent, you’ll need to be a good role model to your kids. Maintain a healthy eating lifestyle and a regular workout routine.

The Role of Schools

Learning institutions should play a crucial role in preventing obesity in children through co-curricular activities. Teachers should encourage their children to participate in sports as it helps them lose excess weight. Interestingly, there are some schools which hold sports days, where students spend the entire time participating in different sporting activities from ball games to athletics.


We can solve childhood obesity quickly once parents, teachers, and physicians concentrate on its causes. Of course, there are various causes which lead to childhood obesity and some are more serious than others. Increased physical activity plus a mixed diet are more effective in preventing cases of kids being overweight. Furthermore, teachers and parents can solve a lot of obesity problems if they insist on a healthy lifestyle both at home and in school. All in all, focusing on these causes and preventive measures eventually lead to a better and healthier society!