Causes and Effects of Childhood Obesity

Causes and Effects of Childhood Obesity

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According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children suffers from obesity in the United States. Child obesity has become a severe health issue, with some categories of children being affected more than others. Between 2017 and 2018, obesity had a prevalence of 19.3% and affected approximately 14.4 million children and adolescents. Children with a body mass index higher than or the same level as their peers are considered to have obesity. Body mass index is a tool used to calculate weight status and is determined using age and gender. This text discusses the causes and effects of childhood obesity, including poor diet, family factors and lack of exercise and diabetes, asthma, and depression, respectively.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

To begin with, some of the common causes of childhood obesity have to do with lack of exercise, a poor diet, and family factors. Lack of exercise for children is a trigger for childhood obesity. Children that do not exercise regularly are more prone to becoming obese since they do are not burning any calories. Children spend a lot of time doing sedentary activities such as playing video games and watching television. Such activities where the child spends not being active is a big contributor to the obesity problem. Additionally, watching too much TV can exacerbate the problem of childhood obesity, seeing that it features advertisements that advocate for unhealthy eating. Advertisements for unhealthy foods tend to encourage children to carry on taking unhealthy foods, placing them at a high risk of becoming obese (Ordway, Sadler, Holland, Slade, Close, & Mayes, 2018). Diet is another risk factor associated with childhood obesity. The American culture is usually a high fast-food culture. As a result, people tend to consume high-calorie foods, including baked goods, fast foods, and snacks at vending machines. Such foods are likely to do more harm than good. They are the main reason why children in the United States continue to suffer obesity at an alarming rate. Additionally, children are notorious for consuming candy which also causes weight gain. Deserts also contain lots of calories which is unhealthy for both children and adults. More research points to sugar drinks such as sports drinks and fruit juices as being the cause of obesity in other people. Out of all behavioral factors associated with child obesity, poor diet patterns in children has been linked with a high risk of childhood obesity. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and free sugars is a huge determinant of body weight in children. Family factors are another common cause of childhood obesity. If a child comes from a family where there has been a history of being overweight, there is a huge possibility that the child will put on some unusual weight. This is particularly true if the child is in an environment where foods with high calories are always available and physical exercise is not encouraged. Family dynamics come into play in influencing child obesity because if the child inherits genes that place them at high risk of obesity, there is a huge possibility that they become obese. Developing a model that encourages good nutrition and fitness practices at home goes a long way in overcoming genetic predisposition for childhood obesity.

Effects of Childhood Obesity

Some of the common effects of childhood obesity include asthma, diabetes, and depression. While some of the effects are physical, some tend to be social and emotional. Asthma is one of the physical complications associated with child obesity. Research has found that obese children are at a third higher risk of suffering from asthma compared to their healthy counterparts. While there are various ways to reduce the incidence of asthma in children, datas has revealed that suppressing the onset of childhood obesity can significantly reduce the public health hazard that is asthma. Worth noting both obesity and asthma has been cited as a significant health problem for children worldwide, and findings reveal that their prevalence is rising. According to a 2018 Nutrients review, although asthma and obesity tend to co-exist in some of the children, rising evidence points to the existence of a phenotype known as obese asthma in which increased body weight modifies and affects asthma characteristics. This asthma phenotype is characterized by worse control, additional control, severe and more frequent acute episodes, low quality of life, and reduced reaction to inhaled corticosteroids. Diabetes is another known effect of childhood obesity. Children that have obesity are at an increased risk of growing health problems such as diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a health condition where one’s body is unable to metabolize glucose well. Diabetes is life-threatening, leading to nerve damage, kidney dysfunction, and eye disease (Tyson & Frank, 2018). Just like adults, children are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes as a result of being overweight. Worth noting, type 2 diabetes is a condition that can be easily reversed through lifestyle and diet changes. Another consequence linked with childhood obesity is depression. Children that suffer from obesity tend to suffer at the hands of their peers. They have to contend with peers’ bullying and teasing, resulting in low self-esteem and a high risk of anxiety and depression. Children presenting with obesity tend to be vulnerable as being bullied makes them anxious and depressed. This may cause psychological and emotional stress which limits their access to treatment. It makes them shy away from seeking the help that they need. Children with obesity should be offered long-term and adequate treatment to help reduce the risks. Worth noting in some regions of Sweden, children rarely get any form of treatment that they need.


In closing, the problem of childhood obesity is becoming an issue of concern for society. Childhood obesity is caused by poor diet, family factors, and lack of exercise. Some of the consequences of childhood obesity include depression, asthma, and diabetes type 2. There is a need to support the enforcement and encouragement of healthy lifestyles at home to address this problem. Parents should remain informed about the health hazard that obesity poses and strive to provide their children with healthy food options. If such behavioral change can take place consistently, it would pay off in the long term. Exercise and dietary interventions should be combined and employed on a community basis to stop the pandemic of obesity in children. Moving forwards, parents should set good examples that their children can follow. They should strive to make regular physical activity and healthy eating a family affair because all people are involved and everyone benefits. Additionally, parents should avoid giving non-foods as rewards to their children in their parenting duties. In essence, they should not promise candy to their children as a reward for good behavior.


Ordway, M. R., Sadler, L. S., Holland, M. L., Slade, A., Close, N., & Mayes, L. C. (2018). A home visiting parenting program and child obesity: A randomized trial. Pediatrics, 141(2).

Tyson, N., & Frank, M. (2018). Childhood and adolescent obesity definitions as related to BMI, evaluation and management options. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 48, 158-164.

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