Childhood Obesity and Diet
Presently, about 25 percent of children and teenagers in the developed countries are either obese or overweight (Cespedes et al., 2016). The extra body weight carried by these children puts them at risk of getting health complications such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. Childhood obesity can also have a psychological toll on the child. Overweight kids find it challenging to participate in sports and other activities with their peers at school. They are also often teased and excluded making them have low esteem and a negative body image. The diet consumed by the child and the lifestyle adopted by the family determine whether they will become obese or otherwise.
Dhana et al. found that the lifestyle of the mother of the child determines whether the child will develop obesity (2018). The offspring of women that practices five low-risk lifestyle practices have a 75 percent lower risk of developing obesity compared to the mothers that did not adhere to a healthy lifestyle. The five low-risk lifestyle factors include a healthy diet, non-smoking, average body weight, light to moderate alcohol intake and regular exercise. The researchers further found that if both the mother and the child practice a healthy lifestyle, the risk of the child becoming obese is reduced by 82 percent (Dhana et al., 2018). The findings and associations found in this study persisted independent of the other established childhood obesity risk factors. In this study it notable that diet is a chief component of healthy living. If the mothers fail at consuming a healthy diet, they are likely to pass on the habit to their offspring.
Scientific research on childhood obesity has documented that both genetics and the environment can cause it. However, there is a sharp rise in the number of overweight and obese children in the developed countries. The increased rates of childhood obesity are an indicator of the little influence that genetics have on the weight of the child compared to the environment in which they are nurtured (Dhana et al., 2018). The prevalent diet has changed due to changing lifestyle, increased human population, and improvements in food technology. Much focus has been placed on processed foods and sugars. These foods are blamed for most of the obesity found in children. Children brought up by parents who are overweight are also likely to become overweight themselves (Dhana et al., 2018). This seems obvious because the risk factors for the parents also apply for the child. It also denotes the importance of the environment in which the child grows.
Cespedes et al. carried out a study to find out the effect of the sleep patterns and particularly the duration of sleep on the likelihood of a child becoming obese (2018). The study was done on 1,046 children whose sleep patterns were followed from infancy to mid-childhood. The study revealed that children that had insufficient sleep also had poor quality diet as their favorable choice. The study adjusted for the age of the child, gender, ethnicity, household income and the education of the parent. This study also proved that it is challenging to assess the dietary patterns of child because it is dependent on what is reported by the parent (Cespedes et al., 2018). The parent is not always in contact with the child to witness what the child consumes. The is especially so with working mothers and schooling children. The researcher could biologically explain the findings but speculated that sleep has an influence on the energy balance in the body. Its disruption most likely induced a craving for foods containing high calories in the children (Cespedes et al., 2018). Previous studies have also indicated that the timing of meals impacts the metabolic processes which can either raise or lower the risk of a child developing obesity.
A significant gap in knowledge regarding childhood obesity and diet is the effect of the diet of a mother on the fetus. No study has been carried out to determine whether the habits of a mother when pregnant have a bearing on the susceptibility of the future offspring developing obesity. Also, scientists experience challenges when designing a study that accounts for the possible influence of the environment and genetics. In the future, an investigation should be a carried out where the subjects are studied for a lifetime, and their offspring then observed to come up with an all-round understanding of the factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Changes in lifestyle and dietary behaviors of the participants should be clearly indicated for purposes of accuracy in the findings.
This era of processed food, eating out and abundance of sugary foods has resulted in higher rates of obesity in the developed nations. The obesity scourge is also affecting children and teenager with about a quarter of them being overweight or obese. It is easy to make a correlation between obesity and the diet consumed by these children. Lastly, there are other factors in play as well including genetics and the environment in which the children are raised.
Cespedes, E. M., Hu, F. B., Redline, S., Rosner, B., Gillman, M. W., Rifas-Shiman, S., & Taveras, E. M. (2016). Chronic insufficient sleep and diet quality: Contributors to childhood obesity. Obesity, 24(1), 184-190. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.21196
Dhana, K., Haines, J., Liu, G., Zhang, C., Wang, X., Field, A. E., . . . Sun, Q. (2018). Association between maternal adherence to healthy lifestyle practices and risk of obesity in offspring: Results from two prospective cohort studies of mother-child pairs in the united states. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 362doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2486