The Prevalence for Childhood Obesity and Reasons for why it is increasing
Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. 9.9% of boys and 9.0% of girls as young as age 4-5 and 20.8% of boys and 17.3% of girls aged 10-11 are thought to be obese.
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents and is one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Globally, it is estimated that 170 million children under the age of 18 are overweight and over the past thirty years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children. The number of overweight or obese infants and young children aged 0 to 5 years has increased globally from 32 million in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.
Due to this, obesity has serious health conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cancers later in life
- Child and adolescent obesity also increases the risk of:
- Social isolation
- Depression among youth
Childhood obesity is fundamentally due to the increased intake of energy packed foods which are high in sugars and fats but low in vitamins and minerals as well as a lack in physical activity. Obesity occurs when the energy taken into the body is not used up. Spending an increased amount of time in front of the computer or watching too much TV are both contributing factors to obesity. People you are around (social factors) influence your lifestyle, for example your family members. It is thought, 5 out of 10 children who have one parent who is obese and 8 out of 10 children who have two parents who are obese will also become obese themselves. More children as well as families are eating in more fast food restaurants as it is quick, consequently meaning it is a less healthy option, leading to poor diet and not eating healthily enough. Lack of sleep has also been suggested as a possible risk factor for obesity in children. There is a trend of children going to sleep later, along with lack of physical activity leading to poor sleep.
- Prioritizing areas for action in the field of population-based prevention of childhood obesity, WHO.
- Childhood Obesity: Assessment, Prevention & Treatment, University of Minnesota
- Trends in obesity, Public health England
Author: Praveena Mahalingam