What Causes Obesity In Children?

What Causes Obesity In Children?

In the modern day life, it is often hard to watch diet and maintain weight along with overall health due to the overflow of foods that are less in nutritional value as well as lack of time to properly monitor the daily intake.

Most of the adults are perpetually busy in balancing their jobs at family at home. This not only affects their health but other members’ health, especially younger children who need constant attention, to a great extent.

The number of people diagnosed as obese or overweight has increased over the recent years.  Consequently, the risks of getting deadly diseases such as cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and hypertension are on the rise as well.

One of the most significant things to note here is that the problem of obesity and related diseases has not been only seen in adults but a vast majority of children too, especially in the United States.

Childhood obesity has been labeled as an epidemic which has been seen in major parts of the world. In accordance with the World Health Organization, there are 43 million children under the age of five which have been classified as obese in the United States alone.

The same report by WHO has also predicted that more than 60% of the diseases worldwide will be linked to or directly caused by obesity alone in all of the age groups. The reason listed behind this is the negligence of obesity in children.

Most of the children who are overweight or obese in childhood continue to have poor health and excess fat as they grow older. Where childhood obesity is a serious issue which continues to spread around the world, unfortunately, many of the parents still do not take it seriously.

According to a survey carried out in 2013, the number of children who were obese was found in families with adults having poor eating habits as well as with parents who themselves followed a healthy diet.

Many still forget that it is important to look after the diet of the children along with their own and that the children are not able to ‘grow out of’ obesity by themselves. The survey also showed that this was a popularly shared view in the families.

Before moving towards figuring out a solution to cure obesity in children it is fundamental to diagnose what is causing it in the first place or else the adopted ways to tackle the problem might just not work.

What Causes Obesity in Children?

While most of the children suffering from obesity have some common habits or lifestyles, the actual causes of it can vary from one child to another. In addition, the treatment for the obesity is dependent upon the reason.

In case a parent tries to cure their child’s obesity by just doing the obvious steps, chances are that the efforts will have little or no effect. On the contrast, it may actually worsen the condition of the child.

Some of the reasons that can lead to obesity in children are:

Large Portion Sizes

The most obvious and common reason that can cause obesity in person from any age group is large portion sizes. In accordance with most researchers, a person is likely to consume a greater than needed amount of food when it is present in an abundant quantity.

Adults can be careful and watch their portion sizes according to their daily intake while children, on the other hand, will eat as much as they are given. Most of them will not feel the difference between a medium sized bag of chips and a supersize bag of chips.

Regardless of what the size of the food is, children finish without stopping in between or thinking about whether it’s within their daily limit. This is what happens the majority of the time, especially in cases of snacks or fast food.

Controlling portion sizes of the food is equally important for children as it is for older age groups. Obesity rates increase has a direct relation with larger food portions.

Try to not neglect the importance a portion of the food while handing out snacks for school or putting more than a needed quantity of food in front of the child.

Consumption of Unhealthy Foods

The most important thing next to the size of the meal is the quality of the food. In consonance with the researchers, children today are consuming high amounts of sugary and processed food in comparison with the children from a few decades ago.

Eating sugary carbohydrates and processed foods not only increases the risk factor of getting obese in children but provides no valuable vitamins and minerals that can help with the health of the body.

As mentioned at the starting, such kinds of foods are most commonly found and consumed in the world now. From grocery stores to local cafes, everything is filled with high-calorie and nutrient deficient food.

In accordance with a study published in Pediatric Clinics in 2013, 14.6 percent of the energy in children of 2 years and younger comes from foods with added sugar in their diets. The foods found in most of the diets were soda and juices.

The study also indicated a positive relationship between the added sugars and increased risks of obesity in children.

Lack of Healthy Fats

For many years, most of the people believed that all types of fats are harmful to the body and a leading factor behind obesity. Recent studies have debunked this myth, claiming that healthy fats, also listed as complex nutrients, have an inverse relation with being overweight.

Unlike processed foods and sugar carbohydrates foods loaded with healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, butter, coconut oil and yogurt can help in preventing obesity as they also come with some of the most vital nutrients.

A diet deprived of healthy fats is usually loaded with trans fat which is found in unhealthy foods such as deep-fried meals, sugary bakery items and most of the packaged food. Increasing the number of good fats may help in treating as well as preventing obesity in children.

Absence of Physical Activity

Most of the children today do not play in the way earlier generations did. As a consequence, physical activity seems to be getting lesser and lesser in children. One of the main reasons behind this is the popularity of video games on different technologies.

According to CDC, only 11% of the girls and 24% of the boys between the ages of 11-16 are physically active for 60 minutes or more in a day. The number of children attending physical education classes daily has decreased to 30%.

Where technological gadgets and video games are good for entertainment sometimes, for example when the weather outside is hot or when children are too young to be let out alone, physical activity is still fairly important.

One of the most effective ways to tackle this problem is the introduction to sports from an early age. Studies have shown that children who played sports such as football, tennis, and squash tended to continue them all the way to college.


One of the things parents and adults may not be aware of is the amount of stress taken by their child. Many children get bullied at school or feel uncomfortable about their weight and appearance in absence of the parents.

Stress, anxiety, and depression among children can lead to binge-eating, crash diets, and emotional eating among the children. Mental health of the children is fairly important in the overall health of the child.

It is suggested to have a good relationship with the child where he or she is able to share anything as well as to get involved in activities where bullying or harassing might discourage the child.

What is the Solution?

The solution to childhood obesity is simple. Start by talking to the affected child and inquire about his or her feelings to make sure there are no other factors such as bullying at school that can contribute to obesity.

Limiting portion size and changing the quality of the food can be hard especially when the child is addicted but always remember that children follow what adults do.

Healthy habits among rest of the family members can help the child in shedding off excess weight.

Try to make sure that the lunch given or meals taken at home are also prepared at home. Avoiding packaged food and going for homemade food can also benefit the child in the long run by making him used to healthy food.

Andrea White

As a graduate of Public Health and Policy, Andrea developed an interest in disease development, food and safety and the latest advancements in health. She is a Freelance writer who had affiliations with multiple blogs. Andrea is now pursuing her post-doctorate in Behavioral Sciences.

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