Childhood obesity is an epidemic. Today more than ever before in history, children are struggling with weight gain and the subsequent health effects. Why is obesity on the rise? The answers are both simple and complicated.
#1 Too much sugar. Take a look at the foods in your cupboard and refrigerator. Chances are sugar is an ingredient in most of them. And it’s just not necessary. Sugar doesn’t need to be in beverages. It doesn’t need to be in sauces and condiments. It doesn’t need to be in processed meats. Many children consume several glasses of juice and soda daily. That can add up to thousands of calories just from drinking. An extra thousand calories a day results in a gained pound in less than four days.
#2 Not enough fruits, vegetables and lean protein. The truth is that many children just don’t eat at home any more. They’re eating fast food meals. Meals are prepared from a box or a bag if they are prepared at home. These foods are shockingly short on vegetables and nutrients. They’re also super high in fat, sodium and sugar. A child can eat three meals a day and gain weight if they’re not eating healthy, homemade meals.
#3 Overeating. Snacking is something that most adults enjoy. Children love it too. If the snacks on hand are fatty, like potato chips, or sugary, like cookies, then the child isn’t getting any nutrients. This means they’ll be hungry again in short time. The cycle repeats and children end up consuming way too many calories yet never getting the nutrients they need.
#4 Couch potato syndrome. Computers, video games, television and a complete lack of exercise mean calories just don’t get burned. It also means metabolism slows down. It’s the perfect one two punch for weight gain. A little physical activity each day does wonders for a child’s weight and attitude.
#5 Depression. Childhood is tough. Many children struggle with stress and depression from time to time. Depression is a common cause of overeating. It also causes poor sleep which has been connected to weight gain.
Other potential causes for childhood obesity include:
* Medical issues/hormone imbalance
* Medications (antihistamines taken for allergies can cause weight gain)
* Stress or anxiety
* Peer pressure
* Family history of obesity
Childhood obesity is a growing problem. Parents and caregivers can make a huge difference. Children are adaptable. They lose weight and change their habits much more easily than adults. They’re strong, capable and with support and help they can lose weight. If you know someone struggling with obesity or on the path toward obesity, help them make healthier choices. Help them live a healthier life.