Obesity in children

Studies have shown that approximately thirty percent of all children in America between the ages of six and nineteen are overweight or obese. That’s almost one in three young Americans. The situation in the countries of the European Union is now comparable.

Who is most at risk?

If your weight increases, this does not always mean that you run the risk of becoming obese or overweight. Children and young adults actually need nutrients to grow, so their weight increases over time. However, if you gain more weight than necessary and continue to gain extra weight, you may be on the path to obesity. This can be associated with all kinds of health problems. Here are signs that you may be at higher risk:

  • Children who have obese parents or grandparents are at greater risk of suffering the same fate.

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  • If diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or heart disease run in the family, you would also be more likely.
  • Bowed legs at a young age can be a warning sign of obesity.
  • Depression and a lack of confidence are also linked to obesity.
  • People who do not exercise enough during the day are at greater risk than others.

What are the causes of obesity in children?

The explanation is very simple: if you eat more than you consume, your weight will increase. However, there are many factors that influence this. Genes determine how your body stores food and how well it is converted into energy. Our body is built to store energy in the fat cells in a timely manner when food is scarce. But not every body is the same. Your genes come from your parents, so overweight parents are more likely to have overweight children. But even if you have good genes, you still have a chance of obesity. One of the main causes of obesity is the lack of exercise. The average child today spends much less time exercising than children ten or twenty years ago. Our leisure activities have also changed drastically. Instead of going outside and doing something physical, children increasingly spend hours in front of the computer or TV.

Fast food and snacks

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Many of us eat up to four meals a day, partly due to excessive snacking. And when we eat a snack, it is not a carrot or an apple. Instead, we eat more and more junk food. But this is not always the children’s fault. Schools are full of vending machines offering high-calorie snacks and sugary soft drinks. To make matters worse, children are bombarded with TV ads and unhealthy food promotions. About 35% of these ads are for sweets and snacks, and another 10% for fast food. Fast food is another cause for obesity. While some fast food chains offer healthy alternatives, you still see that people do not order them. Today’s families also eat much more than previous generations.

The eating habits we have at home

If you maintain healthy eating habits, you will be more likely to maintain a healthy weight. And it is at home where we can form these kinds of habits. If your parents are overweight or obese, chances are you have seen their eating habits all your life and are not used to it any differently. Children pay attention to their parents and eat a cookie instead of a piece of fruit, take their meals in front of the TV and are more likely to eat too quickly. This increases the risk of obesity.

The consequences

What should we worry about, besides the need for bigger school desks and airplane seats?

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  • Type 2 diabetes was once thought to be a disease that would mainly affect adults, but this is no longer the case. It can lead to blindness, heart and kidney disease and nerve damage.
  • Studies have shown that children with asthma use more medications if they are obese.
  • Overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure than children of normal weight.
  • Sleep disorders are among the most common consequences of obesity in children. Some children may even experience pauses in their breathing during sleep. If left untreated it can lead to a range of other diseases, including heart and lung problems.

read more

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