Childhood Obesity
In today's society childhood obesity is considered to be an epidemic. The
increase in obesity is not caused by the change in the gene pool, but rather by
the change in the environment. This causes vulnerable populations to express the
obesity phenotype (Stune, 1999). One in seven children ages 6-17 are considered
to be obese. Most nutritionists will say that this is do to the lack of parental
guidance. A child's parents should teach their child proper eating habits so
that they won't run across problems in the future (Tomlin, 1999). According to
the article Facts about childhood Obesity and Overweightness, obese children are
statistically not active, and their diets are high in fats and low in energy
foods, like carbohydrates . Most doctors will calculate a child's body mass
index (BMI), to figure out just how overweight a child is. If a child's BMI is
over 30, they are considered obese. In order to calculate one's BMI, you would
divide the your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (Mokdad,

1999). What causes obesity? Weight gain among children is likely due to a
combination of factors including: poor dietary habits, genetic makeup, family
lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and a child's ethnicity. Obesity is more
prevalent among Hispanic, African-American and American Indian children,
particularly girls ( 1997). Overweight children are not
necessarily overeaters. Unfortunately, much of the food they enjoy contains high
amounts of calories. A child doesn't have to eat huge quantities of food to put
on excess weight. An extra 200 calories a day (the amount in four home-made
chocolate chip cookies) can cause your child to gain almost one-half pound a
week (Miller 3). Childhood Obesity 3 Studies show that children's excessive
consumption of high-calorie soft drinks and fruit beverages may be adding to the
problem. The average teen drinks almost 65 gallons of soft drinks annually;
school-age children have more than doubled their consumption of these beverages
in the past two decades. Children also eat a lot of fast-food, which tends to be
high in fat and calories (Miller 5). Inactivity most likely to blame Weight
control involves balancing food intake with the energy burned in everyday
activities. Although diet is a factor, low levels of physical activity may play
a greater role in childhood obesity than eating lots of high-calorie food. Why
are children today less active? Many blame increased television viewing.

Watching TV doesn't require much energy and often is accompanied by snacking on
high-calorie foods. The American Heart Association reports that, on average,
children watch 17 hours of television a week. And that's not counting the time
spent playing video and computer games. One study found the odds of being
overweight were nearly five times greater for youth watching more than five
hours of television per day compared with those who watched from zero to two
hours per day ( 1997). According to a 1996 U.S. Surgeon General's
report on fitness, nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 are not vigorously
active. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that, due to financial
constraints, only one-third of schools now offer physical education classes and
many children today find team sports too competitive or costly to join (

1997). Childhood Obesity 4 Heredity has strong influence The risk of becoming
obese is greatest among children who have two obese parents. Danish adoption
records provide a unique perspective on the issue of heredity versus environment
when studying obesity in children. Researchers studied 540 adopted Danish
children, who are now adults. The scientists wanted to know if weights of the
children were closer to their biological or adoptive parents. They found no
relationship between the weight of the adoptive parents and adopted children.

But there was a strong link between the weight of the adopted children and their
biological parents, even though 90 percent of the children had been adopted
before the age of 1 (Miller 10). The researchers concluded that genetic factors
are important in determining obesity in adults. And when a genetic tendency is
combined with habits that promote weight gain, it's more likely that a child
will be overweight. Important: If obesity is common in your family, pay extra
attention to diet and exercise (Miller 11). Effects of Obesity Obesity as a
child will lead to health problems in the future as one enters adulthood.

Obesity is strongly linked to cardiovascular diseases and Diabetes. This
disorder also will cause some forms of cancer , hypertension, and also

Arthritis. Another consequence of obesity is the effects it has on the skin.

Cardiovascular disease A major health risk that occurs from