Modern Evolution of Childhood Obesity

Getting Bigger and BIGGER

Childhood obesity is the condition where the amount of excess body fat a child has adversely affects their health or wellbeing.  Methods to determine body fat directly and exactly can be difficult, therefore the diagnosis of obesity is often based on Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI can be used to determine obesity in children at least 2 years old and the normal variety for BMI will vary with age and sex. If a child is in the 95th percentile or higher, according to the Center for Disease control, he/she can be considered obese.

Effects on health

Not only are there health problems concerning childhood obesity, but also those that are emotional and psychological.  These problems could come from other children at school teasing them for their weight as well as a great number of other ways.  Stereotypes seen in magazines or television can also have a negative impact on their self-image.  This condition also can bring along with it life-threatening conditions including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.  Some of the other problems can include eating disorders, liver disease, and early puberty onset. It has also been shown in studies that overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults and that if someone is obese during adolescence there will most likely be an increased mortality rate during adulthood.


Childhood obesity can be caused by many factors which often work together to multiply the effects. Overall, it has been shown that the biggest risk factor for childhood obesity is the obesity of both parents. The parents lifestyle, habits, and genetics weigh heavily on the influence of children. If the child sees that it is fine that the parents are obese, it is very doubtful that he/she will have any quips about becoming the same way. 

Sedentary Lifestyle

Physical inactivity is also serious cause.  The unused calories are converted into fat, studies have shown that people eat up to 195% of their dietary requirement for the day.  If this food intake is coupled with inactivity there can be problems.  Many children who do not exercise become obese.  Just as in most things, this inactivity is likely to carry over into adulthood.  One reason for this inactivity is thought to be because children are spending so much time doing activities that require very little movement such as watching television, playing video games, or using the computer. 

Low income households can also influence the rate of childhood obesity.  The cheapest food is often the mass produced, high sugar, high salt, high calorie food.  Being so cheap, this kind of food is often the only kind that low income families can afford. 


One of the best ways to prevent obesity is to eat a balanced diet and practice moderate exercise a few times a week.  There is no 100% prevention, but the influence of the parents


It is thought that common contributors to obesity are the calorie rich drinks and foods are readily available to children. These can include fast foods and any sugary beverage or snack food that comes in a package. The fast food industry spends around 4.2 billion dollars a year on advertisements aimed at children.  With that kind of money being spent, it is bound to have an effect.