Causes of Childhood Obesity

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When speaking of her 8-year old daughter's obesity, a prideful mother replies "Oh it's no big deal, she just still has her baby fat." Unfortunately, chances are that the daughter's obesity is not caused by her baby fat, but can be contributed to a combination of diet, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle. Studies show that obesity among children 6-17 years of age, has increased by 50% in the last 20 years, with the most dramatic increase seen in children ages 6-11 (Axmaker, 1). This obvious epidemic has raised great concern in the medical community because widespread childhood obesity has increased the prevalence of the once rare juvenile diabetes and pediatric hypertension (Bastin, 45). This concern has prompted intense investigation of the causes of childhood studies, aside from socioeconomic status, three major causes have been shown: diet, genetics or biological factors, and lifestyle.

Because fat must have a source from which to increase, diet is an obvious contributor to obesity in children. Dietary guidelines recommend that children between the ages of 6 and 11 should receive about 1800 calories a day, with 50% from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein (Bastin, 47). With the ready availability of high calorie/high carbohydrate soft drinks, fruit juice, and high carbohydrate snacks, children?s diets have become increasingly less nutritious. Surveys conducted among children and teenagers have shown that 7 out of 10 children eat fruit once a day, and 5 out of 10 teenagers eat fruit once a day (Bastin, 47). Because children are replacing the missing fruit servings with high calorie snacks, weight gain will occur dramatically over time. An over consumption of 50-100 calories can lead to a gain of 5-10 pounds a year (Oklahoma Cooperative, 1). Many parents mistakenly encourage carbohydrates with a high-glycemic value as substitutes for fat and protein. High-glycemic carbohydrates prevent fat breakdown and drive fat into fat deposits, causing fat to accumulate, which occurring in high levels is obesity. The era of home cooking has all but disappeared from our society, with meals being replaced with pizza, or fast food creating yet another innutritious aspect of children?s diets. Carbohydrates also take far less time to empty from the stomach than do those foods high in fat or protein, causing hunger (Buffington, 14). A child having eaten a b...

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...ould be limited, while active play should be encouraged. If parents and children alike can create a healthy balance between genetics, diet and lifestyle, the growing issue of obesity may one day be no longer a concern, and generations will live to be healthier.

Works Cited

Axmaker, Larry. ?Childhood Obesity Should be Taken Seriously.? Online Posting 24 November 2004. Accessed 9 April 2005. 1-4.

Bastin, Sandra. ?Perils of Childhood Obesity.? American Academy of Pediatrics Quarterly. Volume 31 (11/2001): 44-49. Retrieved Medline 9 April 2005. 1-5.

Buffington, Cynthia. ?Causes of Childhood Obesity.? Beyond Change: Information Regarding Obesity and Obesity Surgery. Volume 17 (12/2003): 12-17. Retrieved Academic Search Elite 9 April 2005.

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Services. ?Special Issues: Childhood Obesity.? Online Posting 7 July 2003. Accessed 9 April 2005. 1-5.

Reading, Richard. ?Increasing prevalence of obesity in primary school children: cohort study.? Child: Care, Health & Development; Vol. 28 Issue 2 (03/2002): 189-197 Retrieved Academic Search Elite 9 April 2005

Rush, Traci. ?Childhood Obesity.? Online posting 13 October 2002. Accessed 9 April 2005. 1.
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