The problem of childhood obesity is viewed today as an epidemic that is typical of many developed countries. The reason for concentrating on this issue is that “obesity affects 34% of children in the USA, and is considered a top public health concern due to the high level of morbidity and mortality” (Xu & Xue, 2016, p. 15). As a result, pediatric obesity is discussed as one of the public health challenges in the country, and much attention should be paid to determining and analyzing possible causes of this type of obesity along with identifying appropriate solutions to the issue.
If the U.S. public does not focus on this question, it is possible to expect further increases in rates of children with obesity and negative changes in the prevalence of this disorder in the country. According to Skinner, Ravanbakht, Skelton, Perrin, and Armstrong (2018), the prevalence and incidence rates of childhood obesity in the country have been rising since 1999. The problem is also that those children who are diagnosed to have obesity usually develop complications, including type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, liver and kidney diseases, and hypertension that also affect their life as adults, and these conditions are the result of lifestyle choices (Xu & Xue, 2016). Although incidence levels of childhood obesity are high, the disease is a multifaceted lifestyle condition that can be managed easily by making the right dietary choices for children and increasing their level of engaging in physical activities because typical disease causes include unhealthy diets and the lack of exercising.
Despite the fact that the prevalence of childhood obesity is observed and discussed as being on the rise along with its possible causes, there is still the lack of effective strategies to follow in order to address the problem. According to Skinner et al. (2018), regardless of the public’s focus on decreasing the rate of childhood obesity during two decades, “our progress remains unclear” (p. 2). The levels of obesity in U.S. children not only remain stable, but they also increase while indicating the lack of working policies and strategies that should involve healthcare programs, education initiatives, and family counseling to address the problem (Sahoo et al., 2015). Thus, to prevent the growth of obesity levels among U.S. children, it is necessary to identify the causes of the problem and develop the community and individual oriented strategies that can be appropriately applied at several social levels in order to address the issue.
The causes of childhood obesity that are usually identified by researchers and practitioners include the imbalance between the consumption of calories and the level of physical activity necessary to expend these calories. According to Xu and Xue (2016), the excessive consumption of high-calorie food and drinks associated with overeating and the limited physical activity usually leads to obesity. Overeating causes the inadequate energy intake that is not correlated with a person’s energy expenditure because of the lack of exercising (Skinner et al., 2018; Xu & Xue, 2016). Sahoo et al. (2015) also state that unhealthy eating habits associated with consuming fatty foods and sugars cause obesity, but the researchers also note that following parents’ or peers’ diets and meal choices similarly has significant effects on children’s obesity. Therefore, dietary factors are viewed as the key ones to influence the development of obesity in children.
Nevertheless, extremely high incidence levels of childhood obesity emphasize the idea that other factors can also be viewed as causes of this specific condition. According to Sahoo et al. (2015), genetic factors should be taken into account while discussing the causes of obesity in addition to diets because of increased levels of predisposition to metabolic disorders in patients with the family history of overweight and obesity. This idea is also supported by Xu and Xue (2016), but Skinner et al. (2018) state that changes in diets can positively influence metabolism, decreasing the risk of developing obesity. From this perspective, all causes of obesity need to be discussed as a complex in order to propose the most efficient strategies to address these factors.
Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A. K., Sofi, N. Y., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. S. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), 187-192.
Skinner, A. C., Ravanbakht, S. N., Skelton, J. A., Perrin, E. M., & Armstrong, S. C. (2018). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in US children, 1999-2016. Pediatrics, 141(3), 1-11.
Xu, S., & Xue, Y. (2016). Pediatric obesity: Causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 11(1), 15-20.