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Rates of obesity have grown alarmingly in the age group of 6-19 years in the past few decades.

What is the reason behind this increase?

Actually, no single cause or factor can be blamed for obesity. It is a complex problem, and often there are multiple factors working simultaneously. Following are some of the top causes of childhood obesity:

Poor Diet

Preventing-Obesity-1Poor choices when it comes to eating are a major factor behind the rise of obesity, both in adults and children. Foods that are high in sugar, such as candies, chips, cookies and other baked desserts, soft drinks and other items sold at the vending machine, along with foods that are high in fats and sodium, such as fast foods, provide many calories without offering much nutrition. Consumption of these foods has grown over the years.

These often serve as snack options, but what people don’t realize is that these foods are usually calorie-dense and often provide more calories when combined than a main course meal.
Research has shown that kids in America are now getting, as much as, 27% of their daily calories from such snacks. This problem is often worsened by the fact that many kids don’t get a healthy lunch either.

Convenient options for lunch, which can be packed easily and often come from pre-packaged food items, are to be blamed in several cases. Processed foods have replaced home-cooked, healthy meals. They also promote overeating.

Tantalizing commercials that are on air every day, large sizes of portions and lack of dietary fiber, thereby reducing satiety, are to be blamed for tempting kids, and adults too, into consuming these foods more often. Sure enough, research has shown that sugar and fast foods can be as addictive as some drugs.

When your kitchen cabinets are filled with junk food,those are the only choices you provide your kids.

Lack Of Physical Activity

In the modern era, where so many things are easier for us because of the technological advancement, sedentary lifestyle has become a major problem. It is also a major cause of childhood obesity.

Using cars to travel to school and short distances; overprotecting kids from the dangers of outdoor play activities; and television, computers and gaming consoles have made the lifestyle of kids extremely sedentary.

Many kids lack sufficient physical activity at the preschool age itself, which makes it less probable that these kids will adopt a more active lifestyle in the future. Not only do these kids miss the benefits of regular exercise, the lifestyle they adopt comes with numerous health negatives.

Experts recommended that kids get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

It doesn’t have to be all at once, 2 or 3 sessions of 20-30 minutes each work to0.

Parents should promote activities such as dancing, biking, dodge ball, tag, walking, running, various sports and activities that require physical movement.

Improper Environment

Yes, global warming and steadily reducing forest cover are a reality, a scary one too, but that are the not environmental concerns that cause childhood obesity. “Improper environment” refers to the conditions kids encounter at home and at school.

If parents don’t set an example and adopt a healthier a lifestyle themselves, the odds of kids do so decrease.

Kids should not be blamed for their addiction to processed and high sugar foods if all they find on opening the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator are chocolates, cookies, ice creams and readymade processed and canned foods.

Keeping your refrigerator and cabinets stocked with healthier food options, such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, will ensure that kids eat healthy food. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should cut the “bad” food items completely.

A treat once week doesn’t hurt much. However, a treat every day hurts a lot.

Similarly, kids will sit and watch television for hours if they see that that is what their parents do every day. It is important to instill healthier habits into your lifestyle, so that your kids can learn by example.

Unfortunately, obese parents can pass their unhealthy habits to their kids, and so those children are more at risk due to genetics and environment. The nature and nurture factors can combust here with disastrous results for the kids.

Schools too need to focus on providing proper information regarding the consequences of being overweight and obese, and help kids avoid or overcome these conditions.

Socio-Economic Factors

Obesity rates are at 30.4% for preschoolers in low income households. This is due to the fact that unhealthy foods are cheap, including, frozen foods, crackers and cookies that are high in calories and low in nutritional value.

They are easy to get and cheaper than fresh healthy options. There is also the fact that there is less access to safe recreational areas for kids to play and run in low income areas.

Filed under: Nutrition for Kids