Obesity is the fuse and early death is the bomb.
According to a survey conducted in 2014, 33% of children in America are overweight, 78% of these children are classified as obese. Obesity amongst children is also associated with a number of different metabolic disorders, negative health outcomes, and behaviors including these listed below (1).
- High blood pressure
- Elevated blood triglycerides
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Uric Acid levels
- Fatty Liver
- Low self-esteem
- Disordered eating
- Declined school performance
- Social isolation
- Bullying/being bullied
- Metabolic syndrome
A mismatch between activity levels and calorie consumption
There are many factors that can cause childhood obesity including but not limited to genetics, overeating, and lack of exercise. Some obese children seem to be carrying specific genes that may be making it difficult for them to achieve a healthy weight. Since early humans were exposed to periods of starvation, “thrifty genes” responsible for storing fat and reducing energy consumption have been conserved in the human genome (2). All though this genotype efficiently prepares people for periods of famine, it proves to be a detriment in first world societies where there is a constant abundance of food. In turn, this mismatch between the environment in which the brain evolved and the environment of today has led to widespread obesity (2).
Lifestyle choices such as overeating and lack of exercise are major drivers of childhood obesity. Another factor in childhood obesity is breast feeding, which appears to be correlated with lower rates of obesity compared to formula feeding. The association between childhood obesity and consumption of fast food, skipping breakfast, midnight snacking, playing video games, and screen time have also been well documented (2).
Move more and develop a better relationship with food
The first step in solving this problem is determining if there is a problem. Getting BMI checked can be a starting point in this process. The next step is deciding to make a change, a good place to go from there is improving diet and moving more. Let’s take responsibility for our children’s health and teach them better eating habits, which will lead to a healthier relationship with food. It is important that we lead by example, children are very impressionable and if you are not eating healthy and exercising, why would your children? Let’s eat better and move more. One meal at a time, one day at a time, brick by brick, we can fight back against childhood obesity.