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Yes, it’s a provocative title, but unless we start paying better attention to our children, the title may become a reality.

The horrible effects of obesity

Obesity is now at epidemic proportions, and it may very well be that our children’s generation will be the first to lose ground in terms of longevity.

It is estimated that one out of three children are overweight or obese (some estimates are as high as two out of three). This number is staggering yet is hardly surprising. One only has to open their eyes to see the effects of this epidemic all around.

The effects of obesity on health are far reaching and include:
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer (breast colon and endometrial cancer have been linked with obesity)
  • Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse)
The longer one is obese, the greater the chance of developing the above conditions that have been directly correlated with obesity.

Why are our children obese?

Several factors have been implicated in childhood obesity such as:
  1. Genetics- children are more likely to become obese if one or both parents are obese. This may be a combination of both genetics and lifestyle.
  2. Lifestyle- children whose parents lead a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to become obese. Today’s busy lifestyle means that many adults are not taking the time to exercise, and this rubs off indirectly on their children. Children also spend a lot more time indoors watching television and playing video games, habits that are conducive to obesity.
  3. Convenience foods- related to lifestyle, many families rely on prepackaged, processed foods which are unhealthy. Parents may have less time to prepare nutritious meals and may depend on fast food for dinner more often than is healthy. In addition, studies have shown that many families no longer eat their meals together. Eating in front of the television has been shown to increase childhood obesity. This is thought to be due to the fact that kids who eat while watching TV aren’t paying attention to signals their bodies send that tell them when they are full.
  4. Lack of exercise- schools have decreased the amount of physical education offered to children, although many schools are reversing this trend. Children are more likely to engage in activities that don’t burn calories rather than those that do. Children play outside less than they did years ago- this may be partly due to safety concerns as well.
Regardless of the reasons, the fact is that too many of our children are obese, and obesity is now thought to be the greatest threat to public health, ahead of smoking and drinking alcohol. There is a very real possibility that our children are going to die at a younger age than their parents. Apart from this alarming fact, children who are obese may suffer from low self-esteem and be subject to bullying, teasing and ridicule. This is reason enough to want to ensure that your children maintain a healthy weight.