The Causes of Childhood Obesity
The Causes of Childhood Obesity

The Causes of Childhood Obesity

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  • Pages: 3 (1267 words)
  • Published: November 20, 2021
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According to the Centers for Diseases and Prevention (CDC) 2015, Obesity is defined as excessive body fat accumulation. Over the past thirty years in the United States, childhood obesity has more than doubled; the percentage of children between 6-11 years who were obese has increased from 7% to almost 18% in 2012. Obesity is as a result of energy discrepancy between calories consumed and calories expended, increased intake of foods that have a lot of fat and decreased physical activity. Childhood obesity increases the future risk of premature death, high chance of obesity, and disability in adulthood. In addition, children who are obese experience various health problems like high blood pressure, heart diseases, type 2-diabetes and breathing difficulties. Childhood obesity can be blamed on parents rather than on fast foods.

Parents mostly influence eating habits in children. Parents’ genetic predisposition is likely to be passed onto their children, but also common family practices such eating habits, food preference, activity habits, and parenting styles, may lead to increased obesity in children (McCaffrey et al…, 51). Children model the behaviors of people around them with parents being their key role models. Parents tend to influence their children a lot; hence they are more likely to take up their parents eating habits. Most parents prefer to eat away from home hence modeling poor choice of food. Eating at home as a family provides a platform for parents to model healthy eating habits and help reduce neophobia in children (McCaffrey et al…, 53).

Parents can demonstrate how th

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ey enjoy eating vegetables or a balanced diet, and this will increase the likelihood of children trying out the same kind of foods. A survey involving over 550 families established that parents’ fruit and vegetable consumption was the highest forecaster of a child’s intake of the same foods. Modeling boosts consumption in two ways: observation alleviates the likelihood of food intake or change behavior directly and enhances the chance of liking it (Lent et al…, 92) Parents can make use of gardening, books or movies to encourage their children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Scientists insist that parents should aim to be active and positive role models; they should eat a balanced diet. The diet needs to include fresh fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.

Parents’ food preference is also an enormous contribution to childhood obesity. People are born with a natural taste for sweet and salty foods, and an initial aversion to foods that tend to taste sour and bitter, (McCaffrey, 51). A child’s first knowledge of flavor occurs during the fetal stage. The foods consumed by the mother are transferred to the fetus through the amniotic fluid, and smell and taste senses are functional. The type of food a pregnant mother consumes determines an infant’s reception of solid foods. For example, if the mother ate more sweet and salty food, the child will tend to reject sour or bitter food. Parents as providers at home determine the kind of food their children eat, and children tend to prefer eating foods they are familiar with. For example, parents who prefer eating fruits and vegetables will have them

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readily available at home which will make them accessible to their children and encourage consumption.

Communal family activity habits may contribute to children obesity. Prospective, observational studies and intervention studies have consistently linked increased sedentary behavior, particularly television viewing (TVV) and, more recently, the use of computers and games consoles, with an increased risk of obesity (Lent et al…91). in today’s world, most families have adopted a sedentary lifestyle which does not encourage children to exercise or play outdoor games; hence they lack a way of burn up consumed calories. Parents should, therefore, introduce activities that promote exercise in their children’s lives.

In addition, parenting styles may lead to childhood obesity. Parenting entails how a parent takes care and feeds her kids. They may adopt restrictive parenting as a way of raising their children. They restrict high energy foods from their children’s diet in the hope that it will encourage healthy eating, but they end up achieving opposite results. When parents are highly restrictive, they elicit curiosity and desire for the high energy foods in children. Parent restrictions also make children eat even when they are not hungry; hence with time they lose the ability to recognize their hunger or satiety levels and end up overeating (Gerri, 110).

Some parents opt to pressure their children into eating healthy foods. This makes the children develop negative attitudes towards the foods and may eventually lead to lower body weight, picky eating habits, or overeating. Other parents adopt the rewarding parenting (Gerri, 112). They entice their children to consume more vegetables, dairy, or fruits by promising to reward them with high palatable foods. Although this practice serves as a motivation to eating healthy foods, it alleviates the desire for high energy foods more. The practice leads to lack of intrinsic motivation for healthy foods; thus a child prefers to the high palatable foods. However, parents can reward children with stickers for eating healthy foods as it proves to be more efficient. In addition, they may adopt authoritative parenting: the parent sets limits and clear expectations of what he expects from the child during mealtimes.

Although parents are to be blamed for childhood obesity, fast food consumption is also a huge contributor. Fast foods are prepared quickly and served cheaply in restaurants; they include pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, and potato chips. Fast foods contain none or less nutritional levels. More children are eating fast foods due to the increase in the number of fast food restaurants and advertising. Recent data showed that children aged four to nineteen years, who ate fast-food, consumed, on average, 770 kJ per day more than those who did not. Therefore, in theory this could result in a weight gain of 2.7 kg per year in each child regularly taking in fast-food (Ustjanauskas, 368). Uptake of fast foods increased the intake of calories and weight in children hence increased the risk of obesity.

The issue regarding Childhood obesity needs to be addressed to promote good health in children. The community may devise ways of creating a supportive environment which encourages children to choose healthy lifestyles, such as eating healthy foods or getting involved in physical

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