Children can become obese because of either genetic or environmental reasons. Genetically they may be susceptible to gaining excess weight if there is a family history of being overweight and this can be one of the causes of child obesity. The environment in which they live will also have a bearing on this. If they are in a situation where they are regularly provided with or have access to fast foods, plentiful sugary foods and drinks and do little exercise children are more likely to be overweight or obese.
Causes Of Child Obesity
Children’s eating habits become established at an early age by parental influence or guidance, (even through lack of it). It can be much easier and quicker for the busy parent to order a take-away rather than prepare a meal of healthy food at home. This is not to say that take -aways are a bad thing, but if they are eaten regularly then the diet is unbalanced. Children quickly cultivate a preference for this type of food and the pattern becomes set. Irregular meals, snacking more as a habit than from need and lack of regular exercise also helps to put in place unsatisfactory eating habits.
The Consequences of Being Overweight and Obese.
The incidence of children becoming overweight or obese is increasing alarmingly. Children in the 6-11 year age group are becoming overweight at a greater rate than any other age group.
Health problems normally associated with adults are now being encountered in children and teenagers. Such problems as:-
– High blood pressure and cholesterol
– Type 2 diabetes
– Depression and low self esteem
– Asthma and sleep apnoea
Since the problem of overweight can carry through to adulthood they will also experience a reduced life expectancy of 7-11 years.
What To Do
It is not recommended to place an overweight children on a diet to reduce weight, but rather to let them grow into a healthy weight.
– They should be encouraged to:-
– Eat many different foods
– Eat sufficient for their activity and growth
– Eat smaller meals and have plenty to drink, (not carbonated soft drinks)
– Allow treats periodically
– Get regular exercise
– Set limits on activities such as computer games and watching TV
The entire family should participate so the overweight child is encouraged and carried along by the family support. It will be good for the family too!