Childhood Obesity
y to Lose Up To  Pounds of Pure Body Fat in the Next 30 days


Factors Causing Childhood Obesity

Preventing and treating obesity is difficult. Causes are different from person to person and are still not fully understood. They include genetics, the environment and behavior.

Genetics. It has been shown that children with obese parents are more likely to be obese. But is it for genetic or environmental reasons? One estimate says that heredity contributes between 5 and 25 percent of the risk for obesity. The remaining risk is attributed to environmental and behavioral factors. Others believe that genetics may play a bigger role. Regardless, the interrelationship between genetics and the environment is clear: Parents provide genes, role models, and food.

Dietary patterns. U.S. dietary patterns have changed significantly over the past few decades. Over nutrition has replaced under nutrition as the largest nutrition-related problem facing both children and adults. Although the percent of calories from total fat have declined over the past 30 years, total calories have increased. Soft drink consumption has also boomed, adding more calories and less nutrients to Americans' diets. Our environment also supports "oversize" through large portion sizes at restaurants. These trends play roles in the increasing rate of obesity, along with lack of physical activity.

Research studies differ on whether obese consume more energy (calories) than non-obese individuals. Some show they do consume more; others show they may consumer fewer calories. The big difference may be in the type of nutrients that they consume, such as fat. For example, Gazzaniga, et al found that the percentage of body fat was positively correlated with total dietary fat. Still, other researchers suggest that the reasons are metabolic in origin and that obese individuals "process" foods differently resulting in an increase in body fat. Although how these factors affect obesity are not fully understood, one thing is clear: Obesity results when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure and is stored as fat.

Parent-child relationships. Ellyn Satter, author of Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, firmly believes in the importance of "the feeding relationship" and its implications for obesity. The feeding relationship is the interaction that takes place between parents and children around food. Obese children need to learn to listen to their internal cues of hunger and appetite. Parents and childcare providers must help them do so. This includes encouraging children to eat according to these cues, while acknowledging the emotional aspect of feeding and eating. A restrictive diet may make the child feel deprived and neglected, and exacerbate the overeating problem.

Television. Children and adolescents who watched the most TV were more obese than peers who watched it less. In general, the more TV they watched, the greater the prevalence of obesity. There are several ways television contributes to childhood obesity:

  • Watching TV requires no energy above resting metabolic rates.

  • TV reduces the time the child spends in energetic activities, such as running and playing. In other words, it's not what the child is doing but rather what he/she is not doing while watching TV.

  • The foods most heavily advertised on TV are high in calories: candy bars, sugared cereals, etc.

  • The slim figures of TV stars may indirectly suggest to children that high calorie food and drinks have little effect on weight.

  • TV characters are typically snacking, not sitting down for well-balanced meals.

Physical activity. Studies conducted in the last 20 to 30 years show a strong correlation between obesity and lack of physical activity. Nearly half of youths aged 12 to 21 years old are not vigorously active on a regular basis (20 minutes, three times a week).

What’s in it for my child?

Inside this research collection, you will find:

  • School Programs and Exercise

  • How Nutrition in School Can Help to Fight Childhood Obesity?

  • What are the RISKS of OBESITY?

  • Top Ten TIPS for parents of Obese and Over Weight Children!

  • Behavioral Considerations...

  • Getting support from Family, Friends and the Community...

  • How to seek a Professional Help?

  • How to Create a ‘‘PERSONAL WEIGHT LOSS OR WEIGHT CONTROL PLAN’’ for your Child?

Little People With Adult Diseases

In addition to bone and joint pain, irregular menstrual cycles, and breathing problems, today’s overweight children run the risk of acquiring diseases once thought to be adult-only afflictions.  Startling facts show:

  • Obese children and adolescents have shown an alarming increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes.

  • Many obese children have high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which are risk factors for heart disease.

  • One of the most severe problems for obese children is sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping).  In some cases, this can lead to problems with learning and memory.

  • Obese children have a high incidence of orthopedic problems, liver disease, and asthma.

  • Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Some health problems do not affect people until they reach adulthood but in many cases, the seeds of disease are sown in childhood when obesity is a problem.  The potential for a healthy adulthood can be increased when a healthy eating style and healthy weight are maintained.

Weighty Health Issues


  • Asthma and other breathing problems

  • Sleep Apnea (pauses in breathing)

  • Exercise intolerance

  • High blood pressure

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

  • Blount Disease

  • Menstrual irregularities

  • High cholesterol

  • Liver disease

  • Gallstones and gall bladder disease

  • Depression

Adult (Long-term)

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Cardiovascular problems

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Respiratory problems, sleep apnea.

  • High risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer

  • High risk of sudden death

  • High risk of anesthesia complications

  • Infertility and pregnancy complications

  • Arthritis

  • Liver disease

  • Gallstones and gall bladder disease

  • Gout

  • Depression

Obesity Facts on Child Obesity

A recent study (2005) on feeding Infants & Toddlers by Gerber Products Co, Mathematica Policy Research Inc. revealed that the eating habits that are fueling an epidemic of obesity are starting in the crib. Note what US infants and toddlers eat daily.


    Number of Children Eating

    9 - 11
months old

    9 - 11
months old







French Fries



Hot Dogs, Sausage or Becon



Sweetened Beverages



If you look at the fat, sugar and cholesterol contents of these food items, you will know why our children are becoming overweight. [You can find these values in nutrition and cholesterol pages.] You can always train your children to eat healthy. Swap these junk foods with healthy foods. When your children are young, they depend on you for guidance for foods. You can stop them becoming overweight. Read for healthy food swaps for kids.

While swaping foods, keep in mind that low-fat is always not good. Read the food labels. A low fat food may be loaded with sugars. A food may be rich in calcium or fibers but high in sugars, or high in iron but low in fibers. In a recent (2005) survey in Australia, only about 40 (out of 100) breakfast cereals were found healthy for children and adults.

Prevention of Obesity

Although trying to help overweight children lose weight is important, even more important may be trying to prevent them from becoming overweight in the first place. This too is not easy, but something that needs to be started in early childhood, especially if your child is at risk for becoming obese, like if they have overweight parents.

Targeting the behaviors that lead children to become overweight can be helpful in preventing your child from becoming overweight. These include unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity and exercise.

Tips, both to prevent obesity and help your child lose weight, include:

  • limiting the number of calories that your child drinks. For example, many kids drink too much juice and soda each day. Sticking to the usual recommend limits of 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice for children under age 6 years and only 8-12 ounces for older children can help to limit excessive weight gain.

  • limiting the amount of milk that younger children drink. Although drinking milk is important and it is a good source of calcium, too much milk can lead to your child becoming overweight. Obesity often starts in early childhood, with a common scenario being a child who drinks too much milk. Children usually only need about 16-24 ounces of milk each day.

  • Avoiding frequent meals of fast food.

  • Don't 'super size' your child's meals. A common problem that contributes to overweight children are meals with portions that are too large.

  • Don't force younger children to 'clean their plates.' An important way to help children learn to eat healthy is for them to know that they can stop eating when they are full.

  • Encourage regular exercise and physical activity in your children each day. This may include going for walks as a family, playing outside, riding a bike, or participating in organized sports, like soccer and baseball.

  • limit inactivity by setting strict limits on watching television and playing computer and video games.

  • Avoiding allowing your children eat while watching TV. Instead, limit meals to the dinner table.

  • Don't put too much of a focus on what your child eats. Remember not too restrict calories and instead, offer a healthy diet with 3 healthy meals (don't skip meals, especially breakfast) and a few snacks, and allow occasional treats. Talking to your child too much about calories, fat and dieting can actually cause more harm than good, leading to eating disorders.

  • know what your child is eating and where his calories are coming from.

And also important, be a good role model for your children by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Keep in mind that a healthy diet is usually low in saturated fat (<10% of calories) and cholesterol (<300 mg/d) and moderate in total fat (<30%–35% calories).

Get Help

Losing weight is not easy and you may need to get extra help for your child. This will likely include your Pediatrician, who can monitor your child's weight gain and loss every few months, but it might also include a Registered Dietician, who can help you come up with a more healthy diet for your family.

If being overweight is affecting your child's mood or self-esteem, then a Child Psychologist might also be helpful.


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