Childhood Obesity

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Childhood overweight and obesity may be one of the most significant health issues facing children toady in Canada and other developed countries. In fact, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) states that over one quarter of Canadian children are overweight. Although there are many factors that contribute to causing child and adolescent obesity, it is most effective to focus preventive efforts on those causes and behaviours that are modifiable. Behaviour modification is most successful at an early age within the home environment. With this in mind, it will be shown that improved education and resources for parents is the most effective strategy to prevent childhood obesity.

Many researchers suggest that the root cause of obesity is a mismatch of energy intake and energy expenditure. In other words, many children consume more energy than they burn, and consequently, obesity is becoming more and more common. Excessive or poor energy intake and decreased energy expenditure are the modifiable obesity determinants.

Modifiable causes of childhood obesity include, lack of physical activity or exercise, sedentary behaviours such as watching television, and poor nutrition or eating habits, such as eating more fast foods and junk foods. These modifiable causes of obesity are also modifiable behaviours that can prevent obesity from the outset or during its progress.

It is important to teach these kinds of healthy behaviours at a young age since research studies indicate that any kind of change becomes more difficult with age. If these behaviours were to be taught during a child’s early years, it only makes sense that they must be taught by parents within the home environment.

This shift in identifying the family as a critical link or focus point for preventive efforts in childhood obesity is significant. Some researchers have commented that within Canada, the focus has remained largely on individual responsibility for obesity, overlooking the...
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