What are the most common causes of childhood obesity?

For years, experts have sought to establish the most common causes of childhood obesity, as the disease itself and its consequences have emerged as a major public health problem in the 21st century. There are not many geographical areas of the world free from the epidemic.

Some causes have to do with personal and family behaviors regarding physical activity and nutrition. But in recent years there has also been talk of possible environmental and genetic factors that can have an influence. In the following article we explain everything that is known about it.

Incidence and evolution of childhood obesity

Childhood weight issues have reached pandemic levels around the world, then experts They have come to qualify it as one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. You need to address the problem, why It is a situation that has consequences for the physical, social and emotional health of children..

Second published data According to the World Health Organization, 38 million children under 5 were overweight or obese worldwide in 2019. And the same problem affected more than 340 million children between the ages of 5 and 19 in 2016.

A further drawback is that this growing incidence is accompanied by a higher prevalence of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, arterial hypertension or changes in blood lipids. Problems more typical of adulthood than they begin to observe in minors.

the boy eats pizza
Fast foods and ultra-processed foods have characteristics that make them harmful to children’s health.

The most common causes of childhood obesity

In general terms, this is accepted the problem manifests itself as an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. In recent decades there have been a series of changes in lifestyle and in the type of food that have led to a positive balance in favor of those ingested.

When we approach the issue, we have to think of it as a problem multifactorial and with different sources. Current knowledge establishes that the most common causes of childhood obesity have their origin in genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.

The influence of genetics

The factors related to genes are among the most studied in relation to pediatric obesity. Not surprisingly, some research shows that the BMI or body mass index (an indicator that serves to differentiate normal weight from overweight and obesity) is between 25 and 40% hereditary.

However, this genetic influence must be accompanied by environmental and behavioral factors that a child develops the disease. HE to calculate that the hereditary childhood obesity rate is 5%.

Furthermore, the experts pointed out that all the variables that influence the amount of body fat, as well as energy intake and expenditure, are also marked by genetic factors. And not only that, but the ability to respond to treatment is included. Therefore, it can be said that Genetics is important, but it alone does not explain the sharp increase in cases in the last decades.

The role of lifestyle

There are some factors related to children’s behavior that play an important role in the development of childhood obesity. Most of them end up leading to a situation where the energy consumed is greater than the energy expended. Within these aspects that have to do with lifestyle, we will comment on some of them.

1. Taking energy drinks

Energy drinks and soft drinks are products that provide a large amount of calories without any nutrients. An analysis of existing studies on the subject has found trial just say it its consumption is related to the prevalence of obesity.

according to statistics, obesity related to soft drinks could continue to rise. Consumption is expected to increase by around 9.5% over the next 5 years.

2. Consumption of ultra-processed foods

This type of ready-prepared and industrialized food is characterized by containing significant quantities of saturated and hydrogenated fats, a high caloric density and a high glycemic index. Furthermore, they are products that are presented in ever more abundant portions.

All these traits of ultra-processed foods are adverse dietary factors and have a negative influence on childhood obesity.. There is an association between taking this type of product and increased total energy and weight gain, both in children and adults.

3. Exercise and sedentary lifestyle

Children aged 8 to 18 pass the average about 7.5 hours using various technologies (consoles, mobile phones, computers) and do not participate in active physical activities or games. This lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to obesity.

sport in childhood
Lack of physical activity is one of the bad lifestyle choices impacting childhood obesity.

environmental factors

This diverse group of circumstances is what it is known today as obesogenic environment. Candies to define as the sum of the influences that the environment, opportunities or living conditions have on the promotion of obesity in individuals or populations.

In a systematic review On this subject, three main environmental determinants have been defined:

  • Facilities for exercising: For example, the existence of green areas for children or sports clubs that promote active play and sport.
  • Use of public space and transport: existence of wide and safe streets for pedestrians, cycle paths, accessibility to public transport.
  • Availability of healthy foods: This is where the selling price, the accessibility of fast food or the advertising of unhealthy foods by children come into play.

The most common causes of childhood obesity are varied

If what you want is to remedy this serious situation affecting millions of children around the world, lifestyle changes and modifications are the first steps to take. But if the environment does not cease to favor unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle, it will not be possible to move towards a definitive solution.

Not only is there a responsibility of governments to favor public policies in this sense, but adults have a direct interference with the minors around them. It is a task for parents and guardians that must be developed over the long term.

The post What are the most common causes of childhood obesity? first appeared on research-school



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