In Perspective: Reasons for the Skyrocketing Rates of Childhood Obesity
Obesity is a problem that affects millions of people across the globe. Adult obesity has had a great deal of interest over the years, both in terms of its importance in the genesis of cardiovascular disease and other medical problems that accompany it. In the recent years, childhood obesity has become a topic of clinical interest, and tackling this problem seems to be the priority amongst the medical faculty these days. The WHO have called childhood obesity ‘one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century’.
It may appear like a problem to ignore – children must be fed what they desire, irrespective of whether it is healthy or not. After all, they are children and must enjoy certain things in their younger years. Sadly, it is this outlook that seems to have resulted in a rise in obesity amongst children.
Let’s look at some of the facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly states that childhood obesity is a major problem, with the incidence more than doubling over the last 30 years. Adolescents have been affected more, with 4 times more of them affected than 30 years ago. In 2012 alone, over 1/3rd of the children and adolescents were obese. This is a rather daunting figure no doubt.
Why is Childhood Obesity on the Rise?
The reason is clear – the total intake of calories well exceeds the amount of calories consumed in a day. These excess calories are stored in the body and converted to fat. Dietary choices are poor, and eating foods high in saturated fats and sugar are the culprit. Lack of exercise has been listed as an important factor as well, and this is particularly because time spent at home and in front of the television well exceeds what is spent outdoors playing sport or some form of activity.
Of course, it is important to bear in mind that the above are not the only causes of childhood obesity. Genetics plays an important role, and parents who are overweight tend to have children who will also be overweight. It is also likely that the child will be consuming the same diet that their parents do, causing them to become overweight. There are other minor factors that may play a role in the rising childhood obesity numbers. Smoking during pregnancy and bearing children at a very young age are thought to be contributing factors as well.
The problems with Obesity
Childhood obesity has been shown from studies to be linked directly to the development of heart disease and stroke, along with type 2 diabetes. Cancer risk increases as well, particularly colon, breast and kidney cancer.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and there are multitudes of factors that contribute to it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good diet plan and exercise routine is essential to keep the weight under control. Physical activities should be promoted in the children. Burning more calories than what is consumed must be a priority.
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