Overweight problems in pediatric age or Childhood Obesity are one of the most common nutritional disorders worldwide. The causes are varied and, almost always, several combined at the same time.
For years, experts have been trying to establish the most common causes of childhood obesity.
Since the disease itself and the consequences. It entails have emerged as a significant public health problem in the 21st century.
There are not so many geographical areas of the world that are exempt from the epidemic.
Some causes have to do with personal and family behavior towards physical activity and diet.
But in recent years, there is also talk of possible environmental and genetic factors that may have their influence.
In the following article, we explain everything that we know about it.
Table of Contents
Incidence And Evolution Of Childhood Obesity
Weight problems in childhood have reached pandemic levels worldwide, which is why experts have rated it as one of the most significant public health challenges of the 21st century.
It is necessary to address the issue, as it is a situation that has consequences for the physical, social, and emotional health of children.
According to data published by the World Health Organization, in 2019, there were 38 million children under 5 years of age who were overweight or obese in the entire population.
And the same problem affected more than 340 million children between the ages of 5 and 19 in 2016.
An added drawback is that this increased incidence accompanied by a higher prevalence of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or blood lipid disturbances.
Problems are more typical of adulthood that are beginning to observe in minors.
The Most Common Causes Of Childhood Obesity
In generic terms, it accepted that the problem appears as an energy imbalance between the calories consumed and the calories expended.
In recent decades, been a series of changes in lifestyle types of diet that have led to a positive balance in favor of ingested.
When addressing the issue, we have to think of it as a multi-factor problem 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
Factors related to genes are among the most studied about pediatric obesity. Not surprisingly, some research shows that the BMI or body mass index (an indicator that serves to differentiate the healthy weight from overweight and obesity) is by inheritance between 25 and 40%.
However, this genetic influence must be accompanied by environmental and behavioral factors for a child to develop the disease. The inherited childhood obesity rate is estimated to be 5%.
Also, experts pointed out that all the variables that affect the amount of body fat, as well as energy intake and expenditure, are also marked by genetic factors.
And not only this, but the ability to respond to treatment included. Therefore, it can say that genetics is essential. But it does not by itself explain the significant increase in cases in recent decades.
The Role Of Lifestyle
There are some factors related to the behavior of minors that have an essential role in the development of childhood obesity.
Most of them end up leading to a situation where the energy consumed is more significant than that which expended.
Within these aspects that have to do with lifestyle, we will comment on some of them.
1. Intake Of Energy Drinks
Energy drinks and soft drinks are products that provide a large number of calories without any nutrients.
In an analysis of existing studies on the subject, sufficient evidence found to affirm that its consumption is related to the prevalence of obesity.
According to statistics, obesity linked to soft drinks may continue to increase. Consumption expected to increase over the next 5 years by around 9.5%.
2. Consumption Of Ultra-Processed Foods
This type of food, already prepared and industrialized. So it is characterized by containing significant amounts of saturated and hydrogenated fats. And a high caloric density, and a high glycemic index.
Besides, they are products that presented in increasingly more substantial portions.
All these features of the ultra-processed are adverse dietary factors and have a negative influence on childhood obesity.
There is an association intake of products and an increase in total energy and weight gain, both in children and adults.
3. Physical Exercise And Sedentary Lifestyle
Children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend, on average, about 7.5 hours using diverse technology (consoles, mobile phones, computers). And do not participate in physical activities or live games.
This lack of physical exercise and a sedentary life also contribute to obesity.
A heterogeneous group of circumstances known today as an obesogenic environment.
It can define as the sum of influences that the environment, opportunities, or living conditions have on the promotion of obesity in individuals or populations.
In a systematic review on the subject, three major environmental determinants have defined:
- Facilities for practicing physical exercise: For example, the existence of children’s green areas or sports clubs that promote active play and sports.
- Use of public space and transport: The existence of extensive and safe pedestrian routes, bicycle lanes, accessibility to public transportation.
- Availability of healthy foods: Here, the price of sale, the accessibility to fast-food restaurants, or the advertising of unhealthy foods come into play.
The Most Common Causes Of Childhood Obesity Are Varied
If what you want is to remedy this dangerous situation that affects millions of children in the world, changes, and modifications in lifestyle are the first steps to follow.
But if the environment does not stop favoring unhealthy eating and sedentary living. It will not be possible to move towards a definitive solution.
Not only is there the responsibility of governments to favor public policies in this regard. But adults have a direct influence on the minors around them.
It is a task for parents and caregivers that must develop in the long term.