Childhood Obesity, Are Parents Responsible?

3 July 2011, 02:01 | Posted under by Tatiana

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Childhood obesity is considered by many to be an “epidemic” in Western countries, in particular, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Childhood obesity may also be caused by various behavioral factors. The fact that obesity rates have tripled over the past two decades should give parents everywhere pause.
Obesity in Children
Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Obesity in children should be a social concern. Because childhood obesity has been linked to increased risk for diseases such as: cardiovascular disease diabetes stroke certain cancers later in life. In schools where PE classes are offered, kids are now engaging in more activities that emphasize personal fitness and aerobic conditioning, rather than the competitive dodge-ball games you may recall from childhood.
Definition of Obesity
The medical definition of obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The BMI, which is computed using height and weight measurements, has come to be the most internationally accepted definition of obesity. If your child’s BMI is over the 95th percentile he or she meets the medical definition of obesity.2
Research on Obesity
Genetics and family environment play a role in childhood obesity. In a study of 548 children during a 19 month period, researchers examined the correlation of soft drink consumption to childhood obesity. They discovered children were 1.6 times more likely to be obese for every soft drink consumed each day.1 Risk factors present in childhood (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes) can lead to serious adult medical conditions like heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.
Causes of Obesity
Causes include overfeeding; providing only high calorie beverages to satisfy thirst; using food to solve problems, relieve stress, or as a reward; and not providing enough opportunities for exercise. Although there is some evidence to suggest that genetic (passed down from mother and father to their child) factors play a role in which foods and how much a child wants to eat, the most important causes likely may be more related to personal behavior and dietary habits.
Without a substantial change in diet or exercise, obesity can lead to life-threatening conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep problems, cancer, and other disorders. While 35% of parents thought that their child’s school was not teaching them enough about childhood obesity, most understood that the focus and responsibility lies with the parents. Understanding the causes of obesity and the ways in which it can be treated will help you help your child feel better about themselves and their future health.
[1] Childhood Obesity –
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –