America is experiencing a health crisis. More than 61% of American adults and 17% of children can be classified as overweight. Our healthy habits are formed when we are quite young, and if we want our children to live long and happy lives, we must teach them today about the causes and risks of childhood obesity.
What is Childhood Obesity?
Obesity is excessive fat accumulation causing health problems. Childhood obesity develops when a child’s body begins to take in more food (energy) than is necessary for their growth, the excess food (energy) is converted and stored as fat leading to excessive weight gain and moderate-to-severe health problems.
The common causes of childhood obesity includes:
- Energy Imbalance: when energy (calories) kids “take in” (through food and drink) is greater than the energy (calories) they “put out” (through physical activity and exercise)
- Family genetics
- Lower metabolism
- Lack of community safety
- Limited sleeping time
Childhood obesity also seems to affect lower-income families the hardest, potentially due to the fact that relatively inexpensive fast-food meals take less time to prepare and parents may not have the funds needed for children to join extracurricular physical activities.
What are the Risks of Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity can cause a number of health risks because of the increased pressure that the weight places on the body.
Because they are carrying around more fat than their frames would normally bear, more pressure and weight are placed on the cardiovascular system, leading to shortness of breath, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
If the child continues to maintain their unhealthy diet and high sugar intake, his or her pancreas may slow its production of insulin and could potentially develop diabetes.
It can also cause menstrual abnormalities, hirsutism and infertility in females.
How Can We Prevent Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity at its core is an energy imbalance condition, meaning that a persistent diet high in energy (calories) and fat (more than what is required for normal growth of a child), combined with low levels of physical activity and exercise will lead to obesity. We cannot change the genetic factors, but you can certainly influence your child’s eating habits, media and physical activity patterns. So, the easiest way to protect your child from these health problems is to provide them with a proper diet and exercise plan which involves increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary pursuits.
Children also need all the outdoor activities they can get to make their bodies strong. Try limiting your children to one hour of screen time per day and set aside at least one hour per day to play with them in the backyard or a public park.
Childhood is a critical part of a person’s life to develop important physical activity and dietary goals. Give our trusted pediatricians a call today at 813-371-0388 or visit us online to find out how you can help your child grow up to be happy and healthy.